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Iron Chef: Elton Brown on why he left Food Network for Netflix

Like Iron Chef, Elton Brown is synonymous with the Food Network. But now both the beloved show and the celebrity chef have moved to Netflix for a new iteration of the competition series hosted by Brown.

With the Netflix series Iron Chef: Quest for the Iron Legend, which premiered this week, Brown officially stepped down from his long tenure with the Food Network, where he was a staple for 21 years.

Brown first joined the Food Network in the late 90s and was the host and creator of Good Food, as well as the host of Iron Chef America, Thug Kitchen and numerous other series on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

While his departure was never officially announced, Brown’s latest deal with the Food Network ran until 2020, and he’s been quietly off the air ever since. New episodes of his show aired in 2021—Good Food: The Return, which debuted on Discovery+ in early 2021, and a special version of Chopped in the summer of that year—but they were all filmed before he decided to go. on Netflix for the new Iron Chef.

Brown tells Diversity that a few years ago he found out that Netflix was rebooting Iron Chef and immediately wanted to join the series.

“It took some persuasion from many different people. But I knew there was going to be a show and I was sick of jealousy at the thought that I was on the wrong channel at the wrong time,” says Brown. Diversity. One day, my agent finally called me after I found fault with him almost every day, and that was it. Made. I never had a second thought. it meant removing yourself from the same network, but it wasn’t a difficult decision. Time just picked up that I was able to extricate myself from it.”

Brown, who hosts the new Iron Chef alongside Kristen Kish, the TV chef best known for winning Season 10’s “Top Chef,” isn’t the only familiar face back at Kitchen Stadium. Mark Dacascos also returned as the chairman, who introduces the secret ingredient at the beginning of each episode. The Iron Chefs are Curtis Stone, Markus Samuelsson, Dominik Krenn, Gabriela Camara and Ming Tsai.

The competition series moved to Netflix after it was not renewed by the Food Network, where it aired for 13 seasons. Iron Chef debuted on the Food Network in 2005 after becoming a mainstream Japanese TV show, where the series was produced by Fuji Television.

Iron Chef executive producer and director Eitan Keller explains how the show ended up on Netflix. Diversity he began his introduction to the series when it first launched on the Food Network when he met Brown, now one of his close friends.

“I actually purchased the international rights to Iron Chef, so at the time I was involved with more than just Scripps and I had the option of getting the North American rights once and if the Food Network decided not to re-order.” Keller explains. “We were all lucky with our luck that they decided they weren’t going to move forward.” So that prompted my choice, and then a lot of work began, which is how we can make it different so that it’s not just the same show on a different platform.”

Speaking with Diversity At the recent Iron Chef: Quest for the Iron Legend press day, Alton Brown, Kristen Kish and Eitan Keller announce a new series and discuss the path from Food Network to Netflix.

How did the show get on Netflix?

EITHAN KELLER: I just felt that the best home for this would be Netflix, both in terms of creativity and how they reacted in the room. The global aspect of this and the opportunity to change the position of this show around the world is huge. How to make it grander, larger and more interesting? What have we not been able to do on the Food Network that you could have done on streamer or live?

Have you considered airing the show?

KELLER: At one point. We went out and introduced it to a lot of potential buyers and we there were broadcast offers, and we had a Netflix offer. My preference was the Netflix offer.

You said you were lucky the show didn’t get renewed by the Food Network. Why did you say that? Was it just time for an upgrade?

KELLER: We’ve been doing this for the Food Network for almost 13 years, and we constantly asked them to rethink some elements of the format, change the environment, improve and update the Kitchen Stadium. Tthe uniqueness of this was decreasing. TueWe made a lot of offers and they didn’t want to go in that direction. For a long time we tried to convince Food Network to change the order and gave them various format changes and options to update it and make it work and many of these changes were not related to budget increases, so it wasn’t a budgetary consideration, but they were just moved around for some reason in the other direction. All of these platforms have a reason to say yes or no and have decided that their Iron Chef arc is complete.

What changes would you like to make in this new version?

KELLER: We wanted to make it bigger and better. You get to know your opponent better. And the fact that Elton has Kristen such an additional element in the show. Alton told me:We need to talk about how it will be different. I just don’t want to be on the same show.” We spent some time discussing what it would be and I said, “One of the things I’ve been thinking about is partner for you bBecause it will let you reveal a lot great personality aspects that you can’t realize when you just play from game to game. It’s impossible, you don’t understandI have the opportunity to breathe.” he meagreed instantly and I think you can see it when you watch. Alton has reinvented the way he does his show. There is a sense of humor. They are great together.

Kristen, what was your reaction when you landed on this? I would guess that this is a dream job.

KRISTEN KISCH: I grew up watching Iron Chef. I I grew up on Good Food. It came out in 1999 that was in high gear when I watched shows about food and cooking and was obsessed with them. Without these shows, I would not have been able to succeed. So the combination “IRon Chef” and “Good Food” is all faced in this moment for me that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around. It’s a bit surreal and it’s really an honor.

What is the biggest difference the Netflix streaming model creates?

ALTON BROWN: Difference #1 is that there is no commercial break every four minutes and that changes the story a lot. This allows for more detailed storytelling, so this is a huge turning point. I think it will open up a big dimension of what the show’s real value is. Second, because it’s streaming, people can gobble it all up, and that allows us to create story arcs that are longer than one episode. Fin terms of storytelling, it’s radically different.

How is the look of Kitchen Stadium different?

KELLER: Toitching The stadium has always been a character in the series, and I wanted to make it an even bigger character – not only in terms of scale, but also appearance. This is not a TV studio, it really is. i hope i don’t sounds overly exaggerated, but it’s kind of an alternative culinary universe. You are in it, and you are immersed in this world.

I’ve always wondered: is the competition really an hour long? Or is it a fake TV clock?

KELLER: This is definitely the real hour. And it’s very stressful. sweat, tears, anxiety is real.

The chefs on this lineup exemplify a sense of diversity, all coming from different cultures. Does being on Netflix add even more global tone to the show?

BROWN: If we’re talking about the “globality” of Netflix, Of course, we are all very excited about this. I feel like a list that has had a lot of thought snapshot of American “cooking” that I’m proud of. I think he represents the continent with courage, precision, skill and talent. I’m not going to say we haven’t had this before, but I think the new Iron Chef on Netflix, which is a bold frontier around the world, are the people who should have been in this lineup. I think the series has been reworked and developed in a very mature way and Iinternational way tthe hat will hopefully have a big impact.

KELLER: I think the global aspect of this allows chefs to be able to apply their experience. Gabi, she the background is rooted in the various regions of Mexico and every dish she has developed is based on the region. And Marcus just the same loves to show and demonstrate how his multicultural background is reflected in his food and how he can finally not hide their Ethiopian origin.

Kristen, thinking globally, have you thought about the impact you can have by being a queer woman of color at the helm of a show with a huge platform like Iron Chef?

KISH: You know, I never thought about it, because I never thought that I should lead these parts of myself. It was never part of my story, and really wasn’t until I was pushed into TV, so I’m very grateful for the platform. What television has done for me is that it has allowed me to look inside myself and say, “Who am I? What do I stand for? Where am I from and why is this important? And this is one of the greatest gifts that television and the media have given me. It made me look at myself differently. Being on screen makes me more aware that people look at me as a woman, asian, queer and all those good things that make me and are a part of me. this is a huge deal.

Ever since you were introduced to viewers on Top Chef, what kind of messages have you received from viewers over the years?

KISH: My God, everything from the adopted commune to gay community to being a woman, to being Asian. All this. “I’m so glad that now I can finally see someone like me.” All this. Ultimately when you can find someone you connect with on TV, no matter what they look like or who they are, if you can find someone who will relate to this gives you hope – just hope everything will be fine in your life. I was looking for this for a very long time when I was a kid and I didn’t realize I could watch it in the media. to find that solace.

Is this show meant to be an event series with just eight episodes, or could there be more seasons?

BROWN: Well, I know what I want. I would like to do it abouton a regular basis. I like the new show. it my favorite iteration. I I feel like Kristen and I are a really good team and I think Netflix is ​​the perfect home to see where this show can go with time. So yes, my vote is for more. But tHi don’t really call me and don’t ask me but if that bell rings, I’ll play more for Iron Chef.

KELLER: The desire, if successful, is obviously to do more. The task will take it’s up to the next level and reinventing it a little more. We have talked about some interesting things that we would like to do, which I think will play on the talents of chefs and their creativity, and get the audience interested is evolving and they’re not going to come every season and watch the same dynamic unfold.

Elton, you said this was your favorite version of the show. Why is this?

BROWN: This is my favorite iteration for several reasons. One, shWe finally have enough budget to do it right. We were finally able to have a set as big as it should be and a kitchen as great as it should be. I I think finally having two hosts, which we could never do in the previous iteration, is a huge upgrade. Andwe have really great ingredients; filming here in California is very different from filming in New York. And my trailer is bigger – much more better than my dressing room was at the Food Network.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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