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Throw down the gauntlet: Food Network favorite returns with high-stakes search for new Iron Chef

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Andrew Warren / TV Media
This season's competitors in "Iron Chef Gauntlet"

This season's competitors in "Iron Chef Gauntlet"

It's been a long wait, but the lights are flickering back to life in Food Network's famous Kitchen Stadium, and for the first time since they went dark in 2013, audiences can once again hear those magic words that kick off every episode of "Iron Chef America": "Allez! Cuisine!"

That's right, the show that began as a Japanese sensation and became one of Food Network's biggest hits is back, albeit in a somewhat different form. "Iron Chef Gauntlet," premiering Sunday, April 16, brings host Alton Brown ("Cutthroat Kitchen") back to the beloved show to oversee the heated culinary battles and discover whose cuisine reigns supreme.

Fans of the old "Iron Chef America" should remember it well: Each week a professional chef would enter Kitchen Stadium and challenge one of the resident Iron Chefs to a culinary battle. The chairman, played by actor Mark Dacascos ("Hawaii Five-0"), would reveal a secret ingredient that was required to be the focus of all five dishes that both the challenger and Iron Chef were tasked with preparing within one all-too-short hour.

But what about this "Gauntlet"? This revival isn't just about bragging rights or some prize money -- it's about awarding the coveted title of Iron Chef to someone new.

In the premiere, seven hopefuls enter Kitchen Stadium. They're all at the peak of their culinary careers, many of them with faces that should be familiar, thanks to their appearances in other competitions. In each episode, they face Chairman's Challenges, Secret Ingredient Showdowns and eliminations, and a panel of judges that includes the Iron Chefs themselves. 

Eventually, only one hopeful is left standing. Having pulled out all of the stops and used all of his or her culinary tricks to outcook the competition, the last chef remaining faces a dreaded gauntlet of Iron Chefs. After three rounds of cooking against Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto, the judges decide if the finalist has what it takes to join the ranks of the Iron Chefs -- or if this culinary journey ends in defeat.

It's an exciting relaunch of a fan favorite. "Iron Chef Gauntlet" premieres Sunday, April 16, on Food Network.