Fans of the original Japanese Iron Chef (ryouri no tetsujin 料理の鉄人) in the U.S. have cause for celebration, because the series is back on the air starting tonight at 11pm Eastern on the Fine Living  channel. I think it’s been off the air on the Food Network for a while now. In my opinion, while the American version is fine, there’s nothing to match the sheer craziness and fun of the original.
Ryouri no tetsujin, which actually means The Iron People (Men) of Cooking, first aired on Fuji TV in Japan from 1993 to 1999. Fuji TV aired a couple of hours of Japanese television aimed at the expat community in Japan in the U.S., where Iron Chef became a bit hit. (I watched it on WNYC in New York in the early ’90s. I still remember that the first episode I ever saw - Battle Salmon!) Somehow, it caught the eye of a Food Network exec and was dubbed…and was discovered by the general English speaking audience.
The Iron Chefs, and the chefs who went against them in the Kitchen Stadium, were doing some pretty extreme cooking. It was theatrical, creative and exciting. I sometimes wonder if any of the Iron Chef craziness influenced any young chefs.
There are a few clips up on YouTube  to whet your appetite.
Some of my personal Iron Chef high points and low points:
Be sure to check out the great fan site Iron Chef Fans  for a lot more. Even though the site hasn’t been updated for a while, there’s still a lot there worth reading. (Besides, the last original episode aired in 2002 so there isn’t much to update.)