To my surprise, I was riveted by last night's episode of The Next Iron Chef. In week two, the first challenge focused on simplicity — creating a single bite of food — while the other involved innovation in the form of so-called molecular gastronomy. This science-inspired form of cooking, practiced by Wylie Dufresne of WD-50, involves strange equipment and chemical ingredients such as xanthan gum. The challenge was so bizarre it was fascinating, and the chefs performed well in very unfamiliar territory.
The more I watch The Next Iron Chef, though, I'm struck by how similar the format is to Top Chef — from the frantic kitchen scenes with a big red digital timer to the familiar feel of the judges' table. But I still like Iron Chef, even if it feels like a slight ripoff. How about you?