We’ll admit it: sometimes it’s hard to tune into an episode of Iron Chef America without salivating all over ourselves. Watching masterful chefs whip up signature dishes that the judges then get to dig into… well, it’s jealousy-invoking, to say the least.
But then there are those times the Chairman reveals an ingredient so strange, unique, or downright weird that we’re almost afraid to hear him yell the words, “Allez cuisine!” On the heels of Iron Chef Canada heating up our TV screens, these are 10 of the weirdest ingredients that have ever appeared on the show.
When Angus Barn challenged Cat Cora to a good old-fashioned southern cook-off, little did he know he’d be serving up the exotic bird to the judges. In the end, he treated it like any other red meat to win over the panel’s hearts and taste buds.
There’s escargot and then there’s the task of creating five snail-friendly dishes that aren’t trailing under slabs of melted butter and garlic. Sadly, the ingredient probably wasn’t what challenger Floyd Cardoz signed up for when he took on Bobby Flay and he couldn’t quite slug it out to beat the Iron Chef.
Chris Cosentino is known as a “nose-to-tail” Italian chef, which is why we can’t see him being too surprised at his secret ingredient being offal (the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal). But as it turns out Iron Chef Michael Symon knows his way around a strange ingredient too, and he wound up besting Cosentino in the end.
Most of us expect our barracuda with gnarly teeth or in a song—not on a dinner plate. That’s why Spanish chef Seamus Mullen was probably thrown when he learned he’d be taking a bite out of the fish while going up against Cat Cora, which could explain his eventual defeat.
Tongue and Cheek
The powers that be must have been playing on the old “tongue in cheek” saying when they gave challenger Edward Lee and Iron Chef Jose Garces the task of creating dishes out of… well, tongue and cheek. It was Lee who had the last laugh when he walked away with the big W.
Roger Mooking is a dad with a pretty big creative flair in the kitchen. So we fully expected him to whop Michael Symon’s butt after the secret ingredient turned out to be hot dogs—a kids’ classic. Sadly, that was not the case for our crafty Canadian friend and Symon sent him packing.
Most people can barely stomach the taste of fruitcake when it comes around on the holidays, let alone on five different dishes in the Kitchen Stadium. Yet concocting plates involving the festive fare was exactly what then-challenger Michael Symon signed up for when he took on Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto… and lost.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good old-fashioned tuna melt or tuna salad sandwich. But gourmet dishes made with the canned stuff? That’s a whole other story. Yet it’s a story French challenger Alain Allegretti and Bobby Flay attempted to tell in season 10, with Flay proving to be the winning narrator in the end.
We’d never thought of mortadella as anything other than a sandwich meat before it mysteriously showed up as a secret ingredient on the show. French challenger Judy Joo was probably expecting something a little classier when she took on Alex Guarnaschelli, which could explain her eventual loss.
Dehydrated meat: great for long hikes, road trips… and as a secret ingredient in the Iron Chef kitchen? Apparently, challenger Stephen Kalt thought so, because when he took on Alex Guarnaschelli in a battle featuring jerky, he trekked off as the ultimate winner.
Watch Iron Chef Canada Wednesdays at 10 PM E/P