The Alton Brown-hosted series will pit one chef in back-to-back battles against Stephanie Izard, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Michael Symon.

return of iron chef gauntlet
Credit: Courtesy of Food Network

Sure, there's Iron Chef, the classic head-to-head cooking competition imported from Japan by the Food Network (first as reruns, then as an original series). There's also a lengthy list of other iterations of the series, from U.S.-based spinoffs to country-specific competitions around the globe. But it's hard to argue that any Iron Chef series puts the challenger in a tougher spot that Iron Chef Gauntlet, which will return to Food Network in primetime on Wednesday, April 4.

This season's competitors hail from all over North America. There's Timon Balloo of Miami's Sugarcane, Nicole Gomes of Calgary, Canada's Nicole Gourmet, David LeFevre of Southern California's Manhattan Beach Post, Dale Mackay of Saskatoon, Canada's Grassroots Restaurant Group, Jeanie Roland of Punta Gorda, Florida's The Perfect Caper, Hong Thaimee of New York City's Thaimee Table, and Kevin Tien of Washington D.C.'s Himitsu.

alton brown and chefs for iron chef on food network
Credit: Courtesy of Food Network

Gauntlet is essentially the breeding ground for would-be Iron Chefs (not to be confused with five-seasonThe Next Iron Chef, which last honored Alex Guarnaschelli with the title back in 2012). This newer series, which first aired in 2017, begins with seven wannabe Iron Chefs who battle it out against each other in two-challenge episodes. Each week, a Chairman's Challenge crowns a winner who gets to choose one of their fellow contestants to pit against the losing chef.

Then, in a Secret Ingredient Challenge (akin to a regular Iron Chef episode), one chef is selected as the winner, advancing to the next round, while the other is sent home. The last chef standing must then beat three current Iron Chefs—Stephanie Izard, Alex Guarnashelli, and Michael Symon—in three rapid-succession battles. The title of Iron Chef will only be awarded if the challenger wins all three head-to-heads. Is it possible? You bet. Last year's winner was none other than Stephanie Izard.

"Iron Chef Gauntlet" premieres April 4 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Food Network