Brown is the executive producer on the new program for Justin Warner, winner of Next Food Network Star, and is working on a five-part miniseries for Food Network called “Food That Made America” — a historic look at five different foods that were pivotal in defining America.
Zagat’s Kelly Dobkin recently spoke to Brown regarding the new season of Next Iron Chef (premiering Nov. 4), the return of Iron Chef Japan, and how food TV has evolved.
On the premiere of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, the Web-series winner will join nine returning rivals in Kitchen Stadium for the chance to become The Next Iron Chef.
Brown explains that the entire redemption angle changed the dynamic.
“Every Next Iron Chef up until now has been made up of people who are, excuse the expression, virgins — they may have competed on other shows like Iron Chef but not like this.”
Brown says everyone had a chip on their shoulder, an axe to grind and everybody was prepared for the milieu and ready to dive right in and film.
“The food we got on the very first episode was the quality of what we would normally see on a fifth episode because they were already kind of loaded for bear if you will.”
Brown tells Zagat that normally you see people competing against each other, but this year, first and foremost they were competing against themselves. “There’s strategy, there are tactics now. It’s a game and it requires shrewd players.”
Alton commented that he really likes the option challenge because it forced them to play and gamble. “They really have to gamble with something besides just their cooking skill and that really is interesting to watch.”
When asked about Iron Chef Japan returning to air, Brown said, “They’ve always been very hands-off with us, so I think that it’s interesting that the revitalization is coming from us. It’s Iron Chef America that’s making that possible, not the other way around.”
Brown believes the food TV industry has become more diverse in the last couple of decades which has forced programmers to think more in terms of mainstream entertainment.
“And so now in places like Food Network you hear people say ‘we don’t necessarily make food shows but we make ‘food adjacent’ shows — we make shows that surround food but they’re not always about food.”
Brown stressed that even though as a culture we may have very little in common, food is the last thing we all do have in common.
In other words: FriendsEAT.
“We’re all one thing or another, we’re all very different and food is the last connective tissue. And it unites everybody. That’s why it never quits – it never stops being a good subject.”