Jehangir Mehta: 'The Next Iron Chef' villain?
Photo: The Food Network.
What was that on the Food Network Sunday night, you ask? Thudding sound effects, suspenseful music, extreme shaky-cam cinematography -- it had to be one of the "Bourne" movies, right? The opening of a scene from "Saving Private Ryan"? A straight-to-video "Mission: Impossible" sequel?
No, that trumped-up spectacle you witnessed was not the next John Woo movie -- it was, of course, the semi-celebrity chef competition "The Next Iron Chef
." It's unlikely that anything can challenge Bravo's "Top Chef" as the premiere American cheftestant show, but as an old ad once put it, being No. 2 means you just try harder.
And trying really, really hard is what "The Next Iron Chef" is all about. In fact, all the music, fancy editing and bright lights are beginning to take their toll: Even the eight remaining chefs can't muster up quite that much energy. When your losing chef can utterly shrug off his failure -- something along the lines of "even great chefs have bad days; at least I have two great restaurants and my lovely family to go home to," yadda yadda yadda -- you know you've got a low-stakes kind of show. It's not as if these folks are going to go back to toiling in obscurity, with the added insult of "reality show failure" being tattooed on their foreheads.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. "The Next Iron Chef" has its pleasures, even if they're in a watered-down, "Top Chef"
kind of way. Any episode that sings the praises of Los Angeles' myriad strip-mall Asian restaurants can't be all bad, especially when the four chosen for the show are all authentically, unequivocally tasty. Even the blatant product placement of the overexposed-but-still-delectable Kogi
Korean-taco truck didn't bother us -- in fact, the mere thought of their short rib tacos gave us the Pavlovian impulse to check their Twitter posts
to see if they were nearby.