Iron Chef is a Japanese television program produced by FujiTV. The original Japanese title is Ironmen of Cooking (?????, Ry?ri no Tetsujin?).
The television show began airing on October 10, 1993 as an hour-and a-half show with preliminary contests between Chefs, then final battles. After 23 episodes, it was shortened to a one-hour format, dropping the preliminary contests. The show ended on September 24, 1999, but had television specials until 2002. The series aired over 300 episodes.
The program has an eccentric flavor even for a game show. Its host is the flamboyant Takeshi Kaga, known on the show as Chairman Kaga (?? ??, Kaga Shusai?). Its production values are highlighted with extensive commentary made by two regular commentators and one to two guest commentators (who also serve as judges). The commentary presents thorough background information (e.g., ingredients, past history of contenders) to give a viewer context for what is happening in the kitchen; it also serves as entertainment, as friendly banter is shared among the four commentators.
The supposed "story" behind Iron Chef is played at the beginning of every episode. It is said that Kaga had "realised his dream in a form never seen before" and specially constructed a cooking arena called "Kitchen Stadium" in his castle. There, visiting chefs from "around the world" would compete against his Gourmet Academy, led by his three (later four) Iron Chefs. Chairman Kaga himself is a showpiece, dressed in outlandish examples of men's formal attire.
The English name Iron Chef comes from the show itself: Kaga would use this translation of the Japanese title when summoning his chefs at the beginning of the battle.