Longtime Village Voice restaurant critic Robert Sietsema's exposé accusing Iron Chef America of being, well basically, a sham, (Iron Chef Boyardee) has been met with a predictable mixture of schadenfreude, mildly surprised disappointment ('Duh! It's TV!') and, at least for Serious Eats founder Ed Levine -- who has been a judge on the show -- a dollop of defense for Iron Chef.
After giving due props to Sietsema as a writer and critic, Levine says that while the revelations in the piece are all true (body doubles for Iron Chefs not taking part, competing chefs aren't completely in the dark about the secret ingredient), he still doesn't think it all adds up to a sham:
" It doesn't take anything away from how insanely difficult it is to produce five dishes in an hour in that kind of pressured environment. I have judged Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, and Cat Cora in action, and though they clearly know the drill, I can tell you they still sweat bullets and work their asses off because it is, in fact, a real competition and they don't want to be embarrassed in front of their peers."
At least nobody's questioning the integrity of the only truly great Iron Chef show -- the original Japanese version. I just don't think I could handle that.
-- Brian Bernbaum