Thursday, March 26, 2009

Iron Chef, Family Edition

We've all seen that cheesy Japanese TV show (and it's equally cheesy American spinoff) where top chefs compete to whip up amazing dishes in an hour.

That's all fine and good, but as a practical matter, Iron Chef is as valuable to a parent as trying to learn tire rotation tips by watching NASCAR pitstops.

So I propose a new spinoff: Iron Chef Family.

Same basic format, with the array of Iron Chefs and a weekly guest challenger, but from there the rules would be a bit different.

Instead of the mystery ingredient being rare Peruvian sea cucumber, eye of newt or whatnot, ICF would have everyday items like 'hamburger meat', 'broccoli' or 'whatever's on sale that day at Safeway'.

Then would come the *real* challenge: preparing in an hour a meal using everyday ingredients that one could serve to a typical family. No soux chefs, blast chillers, 5 megawatt electric skillets or 'mixologists'. Just a stove, knives, a sink, maybe on special occasions (if they've been good) a blender and a microwave. Oh, and did I mention that the chef has to also get the dishes washed and put away within the hour?

Then would come the judging. Two families of four. Mom, dad and the 2.2 kids would judge the meals. Scoring would be on taste, nutrition, balance (did the chef put out an entree, a starch AND a vegtable?) and most importantly: did the kids eat it?

Iron Chef is great for the fancy restaurant crowd with their huge fully-staffed kitchens. But you want to impress me? Make a great meal that everyone will eat in an hour. Hell, if it tastes good enough, I'll throw in an extra 30 minutes to let him square away the leftovers.

Heck, just watching the Chairman scream "Hamburger Helper!" while revealing the secret ingredient might make the entire show worthwhile.

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