I am a HUGE fan of the Food Network, that 24/7 food channel. It is the foodie equivalent of the Cartoon Network. I can still remember accidentally discovering the "original" Iron Chef. I was fascinated and my watching became an obsession to the point that my 6 year old son (now 12) could identify Iron Chef's Chen, Sakai and Morimoto. He also could tell whether the challenger had a chance to win and even this 6 year old knew that Iron Chef Sakai was a tough hombre to beat at Kitchen Stadium.
The premise was that a wealthy, eccentric Japanese businessman had pulled together the best chef's of Japan. The idea was that chefs from around the world would come to Kitchen Stadium and challenge the Iron Chefs. The format was a cooking challenge that lasted 60 minutes and was "themed" around a central ingredient (Lobster, Bell Pepper, etc.) The Iron Chef's weren't just Japanese chefs cooking Japanese food, no, these were Japanese chef's that cooked French, Chinese, Italian, etc. As silly as this sounds these chefs were very skilled and they were very formidable opponents.
The show with all it poor production values and Chinese Kung-fu movie-esq voice overs was a ton of fun to watch. This series had literally 100's of episodes and not only did the show keep track of wins and losses, but they calculated wine percentages (like a batting average). Take a look at the link above and you can see what a BAD ASS Sakai and Chen were on their home turf. According to wikipedia the last show aired in 2003 and it culminated in a battle of Iron Chef vs. Iron Chef. Ultimately my favorite chef (Sakai) beat back the French three star chef Alain Passard in "Battle Ronkonkai Chicken"
Today we have the American version of Iron Chef and while it still is somewhat entertaining (and my son knows Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Alton Brown by sight) I miss the original.