Iron Chef America at the White House

At the center of politics is food.

From Roman times to Modern Washington DC, politicians have negotiated over dinner, met rivals over lunch, and chowed down power breakfasts with supporters.

Likewise, television has become key to politicians ever since John F. Kennedy faced off against Richard Nixon in a televised debate.

Put the two together and you get Iron Chef America Goes to the White House.

Don’t expect big decrees or treaties. This is a battle between chefs. However, behind the White House garden’s vegetables, this episode is about political exposure and public relations.

It is meant to highlight Michelle Obama‘s commitment to fighting childhood obesity and improving nutrition for the nation’s families.

What better way to get to America’s voters then through their stomachs?

In the episode, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and Emeril Lagasse come to the White House. Michelle Obama greets them. Then, joining them is White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford (see previous article).

Their challenge is to create a meal for America using the White House Kitchen Garden’s produce as secret ingredients. They go to the garden and pick the vegetables themselves, then return to the kitchen -– presumably the very small White House kitchen, not a studio -– to prepare dishes.

The episode, called “Super Chef Battle: An Iron Chef America Event,” premiers January 3, 2010, at 8:00 P.M. ET/PT.

Bobby will team with Cris against Mario and Emeril — and that’s weird, since Iron Chef America is traditionally a three-against-three competition. Oddly missing are newest chef Michael Symon and fellow Greek chef Cat Cora (the only woman Iron Chef).

More disappointingly missing are other important chefs, critics, and foodies like chef Jamie Oliver, critic Michael Pollan, and restaurateur Alice Waters. Each of these has led campaigns to improve nutrition and food policy in the US and abroad.

Instead, appearing will be TV cook Nigella Lawson, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin, and actress, Jane Seymour.

Thank goodness Alton Brown will be on hand, too: he always makes Iron Chef America worth watching.

(Photo of Cris Comerford and Bobby Flay by Jim Lo Scalzo for The New York Times)

9 comments on “Iron Chef America at the White House
  1. Mya Nameo says:

    What is disappointing is the politicization of Iron Chef. Can’t have entertainment through skill, must have Michelle Obama centered.

  2. PC! says:

    The Obamas already are suffering from overexposure and do not need to crossover into “entertainment”.

  3. Food should be Neutral says:

    Food network should remain neutral in the culture war by doing things like supporting Share Our Strength like they are now. As soon as I saw the first ad I knew that not only would no one that I know watch the program but that FN blew it bit time by failing to remain neutral. No one wants to watch FN to see political non-sense like this. I don’t know the political leanings of the chefs or the network and I don’t care to know. This show blew it big time and I and everyone I know will be completely ignoring it. Too bad the sponsors are blowing there money with many viewers tuning out.

  4. Judy Lillie says:

    IMO it’s all public relations that Michelle Obama has a vegetable garden. With her busy schedule she spent more time with political posturing than leaning over weeding. Keep politicians out of food shows! That said, the rest of the show was fun and I’m really wishing I had the recipe for those yolk-filled ravioli-type items Emeril made. The paper bag beignets were a fun idea.

  5. Jan says:

    Battle of the Super Chefs was great entertainment. Please, please push politics aside and enjoy the show as Americans. Thank you to the Food Network and the White House. I loved the message of the beautiful and eloquent first lady, Michelle Obama; to have healthy menus and start a home vegetable garden. Kudos to all!!

  6. Jen says:

    Well, I too wondered how in the heck Michelle found the time to be on Iron Chef. Between her guest appearance here and her husband’s guest spots on late night T.V., I have to ponder just how hard it is to run our nation.

    I think everyone watching knew whatever team the White House executive chef was on was going to win anyway. I’ve eaten at Flay’s, Lagasse’s, and Batali’s restaurants, and I can say without a doubt that Flay’s was the weakest link. Alas, apparently FN takes little pride in remaining fair and neutral, so what else could I expect?

    Go team Lagasse and Batali! Who didn’t want their food? YUMMMMMMMM

  7. Chris says:

    I knew who was going to win before the battle even started. Use of vegetables was nice to see. They were more bleeeeps in this show than all other Iron chefs put together. Not only Iron chefs great chefs but also foul mouth. Over promoted, under rated…..

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