Since 2005, the chefs on “Iron Chef America” have been turning the chairman’s secret ingredient into masterful dishes that three culinary judges are dying to taste.
There’s been a lot of crazy things that have happened to the show in the last 14 years. In October of 2018, Bobby Flay announced his retirement on air via a t-shirt under his chef’s coat which did not go over well with the execs at Food Network. The recent “Iron Chef Showdown,” designed to give new chefs a chance at joining the exclusive Iron Chef club, came off as just another excuse to have a cooking competition. And then there was the revelation that the show’s chairman, Mark Dacascos, is not a descendant of the show’s original chairman from Japan, but an actor and martial arts expert.
But through the years, the show has also gained a very loyal following of viewers who turn in to watch the chefs create a five-course meal of masterpieces with very ordinary and very exotic ingredients. They watch their favorite Iron Chef battle against an unknown chef to see whose cuisine will reign supreme. The original cast of five chefs has expanded to eleven over the years. Here we rank them all for you from the most amount of competitions to least, and present nine celebrity chefs who we think would make great additions to the Iron Chef cast.
(Note: Totals represented below are only for “Iron Chef America” and “Battle of the Masters.” All other “Iron Chef” series are not included.
20 Iron Chef: Wolfgang Puck
TOTAL MATCHES: 1 W: 1 L: 0 T: 0 Win Percentage: 100%
If you were trying to name all of the Iron Chefs before reading this list, we put money on Puck being the one that you couldn’t think of. It’s a little-known fact that he is an Iron Chef. He’s only had one battle, and that occurred in season one, where he faced Chef Morimoto in a battle over eggs. As you can see from his record, he won the battle. Puck is a world-renowned chef who has been a star on the restaurant scene since opening his first restaurant “Spago” in Beverly Hills, CA. He has been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame, authored six cookbooks, and made numerous television cameos through the years. If all of that wasn’t enough, he has been the chef for the Governor’s Ball, the post prestigious post-Oscars party, for 24 straight years.
19 Iron Chef: Stephanie Izard
TOTAL MATCHES: 2 W: 2 L: 0 T: 0 Win Percentage: 100%
Officially the newest Iron Chef, Izard earned her coveted spot among the Iron Chefs by winning “Iron Chef Gauntlet,” a televised competition on Food Network that forced her to best seven other chef competitors before beating three Iron Chefs in competition. She beat Iron Chefs Flay, Symon, and Morimoto to take home the crown. Before she became an Iron Chef, she was a “Top Chef”, winning season four of Bravo’s show. She was the first female to hold that title. She opened her first restaurant in Chicago at the age of 27 and has since opened several more. Fun fact: her dog Burt has his own Twitter account.
18 Iron Chef: Alex Guarnaschelli
TOTAL MATCHES: 11 W: 7 L: 4 T: 0 Win Percentage: 63.6%
Guarnaschelli got her start in the food world at a young age by watching her cookbook-editor mother test out recipes. However, she has become a star in her own right. After training for years in NYC and France, she served as executive chef at Darby in New York before becoming executive chef of the popular Butter Restaurant, also in NYC. She has been on Food Network for years. Before winning her Iron Chef title in 2012, she hosted her own show, and appeared on several others for the network, including “Chopped,” “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” “The Next Food Network Star,” and “Guy’s Grocery Games” to name just a few.
17 Iron Chef: Geoffrey Zakarian
TOTAL MATCHES: 14 W: 9 L: 5 T: 0 Win Percentage: 64.3%
Zakarian is pushing 60 but shows no signs of slowing down. The award-winning chef has restaurants in New York City, New Jersey, and Florida. He has authored two cookbooks and appeared on many shows for the Food Network. He and his wife have a line of cookware available for sale, as well as a line of premium ingredients so you can have your own master chef moments at home. He has had a couple of legal battles in his career, one related to personal finances and one related to pulling out of a deal to open a restaurant in Washington, D.C., but his culinary prowess remains intact. He won his Iron Chef title in December 2011, and is currently a co-host on Food Network’s “The Kitchen,” as well as a frequent guest judge on “Chopped.”
16 Iron Chef: Marc Forgione
TOTAL MATCHES: 15 W: 8 L: 7 T: 0 Win Percentage: 53%
Forgione became an Iron Chef when he won “The Next Iron Chef” competition in 2010, and some would say he spent his life preparing for that moment. His father Larry was a well-known chef and restauranteur who made his mark on the St. Louis restaurant scene in the 1970s and ‘80s with his iconic eatery. Forgione worked hard to live up to the family name and started by earning a four-year degree in hotel and restaurant management and spending his summers working as a line chef. After graduation he headed to France to learn traditional cooking, before returning to America to officially start building his empire. He has opened several restaurants over the years and now lives in New York City. Unlike other Iron Chefs, Forgione has rarely appeared on TV outside of “Iron Chef” competitions.
15 Iron Chef: Jose Garces
TOTAL MATCHES: 23 W: 16 L: 7 T: 0 Win Percentage: 69.6%
Garces is a force of nature when it comes to being a chef and restauranteur. He was born in Chicago but makes his home now in Philadelphia. His parents are from Ecuador and his style of cooking reflects his heritage. He is the author of two cookbooks and has opened no less than seven restaurants in Philly. He has also served as executive chef in Chicago and partnered with a restaurant group to open up eateries in the Atlantic City, NJ area. Garces became the sixth Iron Chef on “Iron Chef America” when he beat out Chef Jehangir Mehta for the title. He debuted in 2010 and has been filming episodes ever since.
14 Iron Chef: Mario Batali
TOTAL MATCHES: 24 W: 19 L: 5 T: 0 Win Percentage: 79.2%
If you didn’t guess just by his name, Mario Batali is a chef who specializes in Italian cuisine. He is one of the original Iron Chefs on “Iron Chef America” and has a pretty impressive record of wins in Kitchen Stadium. However, in recent years, his legal problems stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct have sent the orange Croc-wearing chef’s career into a tailspin. After the allegations came out in December 2017, Batali was fired from ABC’s “The Chew” (Iron Chef Michael Symon was one of his co-hosts), Food Network canceled plans for a new show set to premiere in 2018 – and erased all presence of him from their website, Target pulled his line of sauces and cookbooks, and his restaurant groups closed his three restaurants on the Vegas Strip. Needless to say, 2018 was not a great year for Batali.
13 Iron Chef: Cat Cora
TOTAL MATCHES: 34 W: 21 L: 12 T: 1 Win Percentage: 63.2%
Cat Cora was the first female Iron Chef. For a long time, she was also the only one. Since making her debut on Food Network in 1999, she has worked steadily in TV, hosting her own shows, judging different contests, and of course, competing on “Iron Chef America” with her preferred She is also the first woman chef ever inducted into The US Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame. Since retiring as an Iron Chef in 2011, Cora has kept busy teaching cooking to people eager to learn her brand of Mediterranean and Southern fusion. She also has six children, her own iPad app, and a line of women’s footwear.
12 Iron Chef: Michael Symon
TOTAL MATCHES: 42 W: 34 L: 7 T: 1 Win Percentage: 82.1%
Somewhere, Michael Symon is probably gloating to perennial BFF Bobby Flay that Symon’ winning percentage on “Iron Chef” is 10% more than Flay’s. Sure, Symon has endured fewer battles, but he has really been making a name for himself on this show as of late. Off of “Iron Chef America,” he has his own Food Network show (“Burgers, Brew, & ‘Que”), frequently appears as a guest on Flay’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” and, until its recent cancellation, was a co-host on ABC’s “The Chew,” which ran for seven seasons. He with the infectious (or annoying, depending on your ear) laugh is of Greek and Italian descent, and you’ll often see the flavor profiles of those regions reflected in his cooking.
11 Iron Chef: Masaharu Morimoto
TOTAL MATCHES: 44 W: 26 L: 17 T: 1 Win Percentage: 60.2%
Morimoto is a revered chef around the world. He has restaurants from Mexico City to Las Vegas, Orlando to Tokyo. He has been an Iron Chef since the inception of “Iron Chef America,” and is known for his knife skills and the beautiful precision of his plated dishes. He can speak English, but it’s with a heavy accent and he often reverts to his native tongue when describing his food so you’ll often see subtitles on the screen when he’s speaking. He has two cookbooks to his name, cooking oils, a knife collection, and a line of alcohol. Morimoto is just as recognized and rewarded for his amazing and innovative restaurant design as he is for his food, so if you dine at one of his restaurants, prepared to be amazed at both the surroundings and the taste.
10 Iron Chef: Bobby Flay
TOTAL MATCHES: 61 W: 43 L: 16 T: 2 Win Percentage: 72.1%
While his percentage of battles won isn’t the highest among his fellow Iron Chefs, Flay has battled - and won - more times than any of them. With his reputation as a master of southwestern cuisine and his ability to put his own spin on just about any dish imaginable, Flay impressed the judges in battle after battle with his flavors and creativity. In the summer of 2017, while taping an episode of “Iron Chef Showdown” (a very similar successor to “Iron Chef America”), Flay took off his chef’s coat to reveal a t-shirt that stated, “This is my last Iron Chef battle ever.” While he hasn’t appeared on another episode since, he later clarified the stunt to say that while he doesn’t want to appear regularly anymore, he is open to competing again when his schedule allows.
9 Want To See: Gordon Ramsay
Ramsay has spent 18 seasons navigating his own cutthroat cooking competition, “Hell’s Kitchen.” And when we say “navigating,” we mean berating chef contestants by screaming at them, spitting out their food, throwing anything close to him in the kitchen when he gets mad at them for slowing down service, and cursing them out so much and often that the majority of words he says on the show are bleeped out for censoring. We would love to see him function in the heat of kitchen stadium and allow his food to be judged in the same way that he has judged others (and found them unworthy) for so many years. Of course, we envision much less swearing.
8 Want To See: Robert Irvine
Irvine has floated around Food Network for years, slowly building up his resume and his arm muscles. He’s been on “Worst Cooks in America,” “Restaurant: Impossible,” “Dinner: Impossible,” and “Restaurant Express.” He’s spent years showing people what they’re doing wrong, not just in cooking, but also in managing their restaurants. He specializes in turning failing businesses and chefs into thriving successes, all while working under tight deadlines. But no deadline has been tighter than the 60 little minutes allotted for preparing five dishes under the punishing glare of Kitchen Stadium lights. We want to see if he can manage himself and two chefs to manhandle the secret ingredient into submission like he has so many errant restaurant workers.
7 Want To See: Rachael Ray
Ray is undoubtedly the biggest star ever to find success outside of the Food Network bubble. She parlayed her 30-minute dinners into a multi-million empire after Oprah met Ray, loved her spunk, and agreed to produce a talk show for Ray. Now her name is on all kinds of grocery items, cookware, and even dog food. Ironically, she considers herself a cook rather than a chef because she has no formal training. Her “Rachael Ray” show has been on for 12 seasons, surviving tough daytime competition with a blend of celebrity guests, self-help bits, makeovers, and cooking, of course. Like several others on our wish list, she’s been on “Iron Chef America” before, but it’s been years and we want to see her dust off her chef coat and take on the big dogs to see if she still has the cooking chops to come out a winner.
6 Want To See: Emeril Lagasse
Bam! The chef famous for his New Orleans-inspired cooking was actually born and raised in Massachusetts. He became the chef at the well-known Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and perfected his Creole cooking there. He cooked alongside Julia Child on TV in 1993 and started hosting several of his own shows beginning in 1997. He’s been on the Food Network as a host and a guest judge, and has competed in Kitchen Stadium in the past too. Although he’s not the freshest face on our wish list, he has the credentials and certainly the experience to join the cast and already be revered as a formidable opponent.
5 Want To See: Alton Brown
Brown has been the host of “Iron Chef America” since its debut back in 2005. With the help of “sideline reporters,” Brown has guided viewers through everything they’re seeing unfold, from cooking styles to preparation choices to food pairings and why they work. Of course, he hosted his own show “Good Eats” for 249 episodes, where he used quirky explanations of science and fresh cooking techniques to show viewers how to prepare a dish. He also talked through why all of the ingredients he used worked together to make a successful and tasteful dish. He’s also hosted several other shows, but unlike just about every other Food Network host, we’ve never seen him actually compete anywhere. Rating would spike for sure if he put down his mike and picked up a chef’s coat to let his food be tasted and judged.
4 Want To See: Tom Colicchio
Colicchio had a long and decorated history as a chef in New York City prior to becoming the host of “Top Chef” on Bravo Network, a role that made him well-known to wannabe foodies as well as people with real food cred. When he isn’t hosting the show (which he has done for every season since it started in 2006), he manages the Craft group of restaurants. He is also known for his activism, working to end hunger in New York City and beyond. While borrowing him from another network could get tricky, we would love to see him put his formidable skills and food knowledge up against others who are also considered some of the best chefs in America.
3 Want To See: Sunny Anderson
Anderson has been around Food Network in various hosting duties since 2007. She is known for her delicious soul food almost as much as she is for her fun rapport with guests and other hosts. She went from hosting her own show on Food Network to being part of a cast on “The Kitchen” beginning in 2014. Her energy and passion for having fun in the kitchen while still preparing dishes that taste delicious help to set the show apart from other similarly styled programs. We’ve seen her judge other competitions before, but now we want to see her bring her soul food to the judging table and let others taste her take on the secret ingredient.
2 Want To See: Anne Burrell
Recognized for her peroxide-blonde, gravity-defying hair than she is for any particular style of food, Burrell has managed to parlay a somewhat aggressive attitude into a successful career hosting a variety of shows on Food Network. She had her own show for several seasons, served as a guest host on “Chopped” and “Beat Bobby Flay” (where she competed at one point and beat Bobby Flay), and now works with the “Worst Cooks in America,” teaching horrible cooks how to make good food – and also stop making others sick with their cooking. She’s been on “Iron Chef America” as a sous chef under Mario Batali, but we would love to see her bring her brash attitude and formidable cooking chops to the show and produce her own food. The biggest question if her hair would still be standing at the end?
1 Want To See: Richard Blais
He’s a longshot we know, and probably the least widely known person on our wish list of dream Iron Chefs, but we still maintain that Blais would be a great addition to the culinary icons of “Iron Chef America.” He got his start in the world of culinary arts at McDonald’s, and that unpretentious start alone makes us love him. He did go on to earn a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and work at high profile restaurants. He won the title of “Top Chef” on the all-star season of Bravo’s show by the same name. Since then, he has authored a cookbook, guested on several Food Network shows, opened up restaurants, and even started a podcast. But we would love to see him compete on a show again and solidify his place as a formidable chef opponent once again.