Iron Chef is an innovative cooking competition from Japan. Originally produced by Fuji TV, Iron Chef combined the excitement of a one on one sports competition with gourmet cooking. The title Iron Chefcomes from the original Japanese title, Ironmen of Cooking. This innovative game show was always popular in its native Japan, but it found international success when the Food Network bought the series and began airing English dubbed episodes. It became a cult classic as viewers were treated to exotic ingredients and innovative cooking techniques. No expense was spared. Chefs seemed to have almost limitless supplies of the most exotic and expensive gourmet ingredients. The competition is hosted by Chairman Kaga, an over-the-top master of ceremonies. He introduced a "secret ingredient" that the challenger and the chosen Iron Chef had to incorporate into every dish. Originally, the program was 30 minutes long, but it was soon expanded to an hour format. Each chef presented his/her dishes to a panel of 3-4 judges who rated the dishes to crown a winner. All of the competitions occurred in a specially designed "kitchen stadium". The New York Times once described Iron Chef as "kamikaze cooking". Iron Chefs and their competitors became celebrities in their own right. Storylines developed between groups determined to defeat the Iron Chefs. The show was so successful in English speaking countries that several spin-offs, specials, and updated versions were produced.
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