Futurama/30% Iron Chef
30% Iron Chef is the tenth episode of the fourth season of Futurama, and the fifty-fourth episode overall. The episode returns to the original idea to make Bender the cook for Planet Express. Planet Express has had enough of Bender poor cooking. But when he studies under the reclusive Helmut Spargle, can he stand up against Elzar on Iron Cook?
At Planet Express, Bender is cooking with instructions from a cooking segment of Morbo's television show. Unfortunately, he has no idea what he's doing anyway. When Fry stumbles upon Bender cooking, he alerts the crew, who are admiring the Professor's spaceship in a bottle. They attempt to escape but Bender blocks the way. Instead they dispose of the food in various ways. While they're pretending to like Bender's cooking, Zoidberg accidentally destroys the broken ship. When Bender finds out that the crew doesn't like his cooking, he decides to run away from Planet Express.
Bender leaves Planet Express and goes to Elzar's restaurant to demand cooking lessons from Elzar. Elzar denies his requests. Meanwhile, back at Planet Express, Zoidberg plots to frame Fry for destroying the bottle. Bender's life on the road isn't going as well as he hoped, but he manages to hook up with a couple of kindly hobos. They hop a train and bail onto a hobo commune built near a switching prism where Bender meets Helmut Spargel, a former master chef who was shamed by Elzar. Spargle decides to teach Bender how to cook in order to defeat Elzar once and forall. He teaches Bender through a montage set to a song from The Karate Kid. Meanwhile, at Planet Express, the Professor gathers the crew into the accusing parlor to determine who broke his bottle. Zoidberg's careful frame work on Fry comes to fruition, but upon Fry having to pay ten dollars for the bottle, he feels instantly guilty. Bender presents his food to Spargle, who dies quickly after tasting Bender's food. Before he passes, Spargle leaves Bender a vial of "the true essence of flavor."
At Elzar's restaurant, Bender challenges Elzar to a cooking competition on Iron Cook in order to avenge his deceased master. At the studio where Bender and Elzar will battle, the mystery ingredient that must be used in all dishes is revealed to be Soylent Green. The two cook their meals and Bender eventually adds the contents of the vial to his food. Bender is declared winner of the contest and Zoidberg runs onto the stage and admits that he broke the bottle and framed Fry for it. He attempts to commit suicide but ends up accidentally breaking the sword and running away. Back at Planet Express, they discover that the vial contained water... and LSD.
Alien Language Sightings
- Beginning of Act 2: "Used Human Probes"
- Iron Cook Titles: "Iron Cook"
- 1x07 - My Three Suns: Bender's desire to be a chef was first revealed in the first season, although he wasn't quite as bad at is as he is in this episode.
- 2x20 - Anthology of Interest I: The accusing parlour is reused in this episode.
- 4x14 - Time Keeps On Slipping: Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate, from the Globetrotters, reappears in this episode to judge the Iron Cook competition.
- Opening Caption: If Accidentally Watched, Induce Vomiting
- Bender Cooks: Early on in the series, the creators wanted to make Bender the Planet Express chef. But this was back when they figured people might care what someone's job was (i.e. job implant chips) and the idea was eventually scrapped.
- Bender's Composition: It's revealed in this episode that Bender is made of 30% iron.
- Spargel's Name: Spargel is German for "asparagus." His character is based off of Wolfgang Puck, who is from Austria.
Behind the Scenes
- Cut Scene: The accusing scene was originally much longer with many more clues left by Zoidberg like a piece of Fry's hair taped to the bottle.
Allusions and References
- Iron Chef: The competition at the end of the episode and the title of the episode is a direct reference to the Japanese cooking show Iron Chef.
- Karate Kid: The montage where Bender learns to cook is very similar to Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel-san how to fight in the Karate Kid, including the song "You're the Best."
- Zoidberg attempting to frame Fry for the destruction of the Professor's bottle.
- The cooking montage with Bender and Spargle.
- Bender and Elzar competing in the Iron Cook competition.
- Spargle: You don't understand. Without the distraction of taste, your mind is free to touch the Zen of pure flavour. You could become the greatest chef ever.
Bender: I could?
Spargle: Yes. Just as Beethoven was a great composer because he was deaf!
Bender: Or like how Rembrandt was blind and had wooden hands!
- Farnsworth: Good Lord! According to the spectrolizer, Spargle's magic ingredient was...water. Ordinary water!
Fry: Ah, so the real gift Spargle gave you was confidence. The confidence to be your best.
Farnsworth: Yes, ordinary water. Laced with nothing more than a few spoonfuls of LSD.
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