Maybe it was the flamboyantly dressed and incredibly intense Asian gentleman simply called “The Chairman.” Maybe it was the exotic ingredients like river eel and udon. Maybe it was the hastily dubbed frenetic pace of kitchen stadium. Whatever the reason, Iron Chef was the first show that truly sparked my interest in cooking and the limitless options cooks have when they use their imagination. To be fair, I was in college when I came upon the Iron Chef series, when my diet consisted of things like Easy Mac, the cafeteria salad bar and PBR, so it was all outside my small comfort zone. But still, it was amazing.
This was the time when the Food Network was beginning to gain a foothold and many of the programs were as much about technique as the recipes. Shows like Iron Chef, A Cook’s Tour, Good Eats, Food 911, etc.. really sparked a whole generation to step into the kitchen. Unfortunately since then, much of food television has moved towards personality and recipe driven programming. Even Top Chef seems to be shifting this way.
Today, my favorite food related show airs on the Travel Channel, but I still catch some others and I’ve really enjoyed the 2 seasons of The Next Iron Chef. Through that competition and Michael Ruhlman’s book The Soul of a Chef, I have come to appreciate the way Chef Michael Symon approaches food. While this appreciation is nowhere near TVFF’s foodie man crush on Season 2 Next Iron Chef winner Jose Garces, I still jumped at the opportunity to speak with Chef Symon about his new shows, Philly cheesesteaks, and his thoughts on tofu bacon. Click play above to watch my video interview with Michael Symon.
The Next Iron Chef premieres 10/3 on the Food Network. Michael’s new Food Network show, Food Feuds premieres 10/14. His current show, Cook Like an Iron Chef, airs Thursdays on the Cooking Channel. Phew.