There is only one non-kiddie show my sons would watch with me with the same enthusiasm they have for "Sesame Street" and "Blue's Clues." It is "Iron Chef America."
"Iron Chef America" is a Food Network show famous for its thriller-like revelation of a particular secret ingredient and the mad-like scrambling of the competing chefs to create unique and varied dishes within an hour. The cooking brawl begins when the Chairman, portrayed by Mark Dacascos, drops the line, "I say unto you in the words of my Uncle, allez cuisine." From that point on, the show would have a hold of my sons' attention eliciting contagious chuckle and acrobatics that would culminate in a pretend when the judges are served with an array of flamboyant dishes. Yes, they would go by the TV, pretend to eat the food in front of the judges, and say their unbeatable "yum."
What is it with "Iron Chef America" that makes my boys giggle and exhibit adrenaline rush-like responses? I have listed three factors that render the show my kids' approval, which then makes watching it one of our bonding activities.
Mark Dacascos' animated acts. Animation is popular among children and anyone religiously following the show would agree that Dacascos has numerous clown-like animated acts under his sleeves. His facial expressions and notorious movements whenever he reveals the secret ingredient can well match Mr. Noodle (Sesame Street) and Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper's (Blue's Clues) animated antics. Dacascos is entertainingly brilliant in his portrayal of Takeshi Kaga's nephew. Kaga was the chairman of the original Iron Chef produced by a Japanese TV network.
Fast-paced, suspense-filled music. Dacascos' animated acts are heightened by the show's choice of excitement-induced type of music. The tempo creates an illusion that there is an extraordinary, out-of-the-box something about to unfold. It yields the same jaw-dropping effect to my kids when the talking drawer, TV, and computer appear in "Elmo's World," or when Steve and Joe figure out problems and find clues in "Blue's Clues." The vivid images and sounds of chopping and frying accompany by bold, combo of trance, techno, and little operatic music consummate the thrill element of the show.
Visually appealing haute cuisine. Anything colorful appeals to toddlers' imagination and creative mind. In "Iron Chef America," my boys are swarmed with different hues and tints that do not just appeal to the eyes, but more, to the stomach: food. Actually, they are not just food, but over-the-top visually appealing food. Who would not take delight at the sight of creamy pasta dish drizzled with truffle oil, or guava glazed chicken thighs? The show provides both aesthetic and simulated experience to my boys. The colorful food does not just satisfy their vision; it also fuels their boundless imagination.
So, if you are a mother who includes cooking shows in the must-watch list, and have toddlers who watch episodes of cartoon children shows tirelessly, try to watch "Iron Chef America." Who knows, maybe, just maybe, it will be able to bridge the gaps in your preference, and pave to the sharing of common levels of entertainment, fulfillment, and learning.