Nearly four years after the final battle, Food Network is taking audiences back into Kitchen Stadium for a “brand new” iteration of its popular culinary competition Iron Chef America, as returning host Alton Brown describes it.
“Several good chefs over the last couple of years when we weren’t making the show would say, ‘Gosh darn it, one of the reasons I became a chef was hoping to be on that show!’” he tells EW.
And they now have their chance with the Sunday, May 20, relaunch of the show, as previewed above in an exclusive trailer. Brown pushed for the revival — but he suggested at least one significant change. (Not to worry: The chairman and his trademark catchphrase “Allez cuisine!” haven’t gone anywhere.)
“My inspiration, at least for my role, on Iron Chef was to treat it like a really, really tight sporting event. When I first started to learn how to call the battles, I was looking at the NFL for inspiration,” the 19-year vet of the network explains. “I thought, you know what we really need is a very skilled, very knowledgeable commentation base. And when we started talking about rebooting the show, I was like, I want somebody on the floor as a floor reporter who has been, excuse the expression, in the sh— and who has worked the line, who has a deep knowledge of food, and can bring something to that conversation.”
He didn’t have to look very far to find the person who fit the bill.
“Jet Tila was the first person I thought of because we had worked together very closely on Cutthroat Kitchen, he’s also a very close personal friend of mine, and I ran his name up the flagpole and it was like, ‘Yeah! Heck yeah! Let’s get Jet!’ and he was completely into it,” Brown says. “It brings so much to the show because he’s down there. All I can see are eight monitors — I see eight cameras and I can comment on that, but I can’t get down in there, I can’t ask questions. And very often he will see something that I completely miss.”
He concludes: “It is a brand-new show — for me as a participant, as well as a viewer.”
Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli faces off against chef Brittany Anderson, “Richmond, Virginia’s schnitzel queen,” in the first battle. The 10-episode season kicks of Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on Food Network.