The Food Network is bringing back one of its biggest shows and a rising star of New Orleans culinary talent will be in the spotlight.

Michael Gulotta, the executive chef behind a small, growing group of inventive restaurants, is among seven chefs competing on “Iron Chef Gauntlet.” The show premiers on the Food Network on April 16, at 8 p.m. The winner will earn the title “Iron Chef.”

“If I could do a cooking competition, I thought this would be fun one, it’s a show I’ve been watching since I was a kid,” Gulotta said. “They people you’re competing with are all accomplished chefs, so you know it’s a level playing field.”

Gulotta and his partners run the modern Asian-inspired restaurants MoPho and the newly opened Maypop, the Italian eatery Tana (inside the lounge/art gallery Treo) and the tavern kitchen Rum & the Lash (inside Finn McCool’s Irish Pub).

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Calamarata pasta is the base for a rich, complex dish at Maypop, a contemporary CBD eatery from chef Michael Gulotta.

“Iron Chef Gauntlet” reboots the network’s Iron Chef brand, and brings back Alton Brown as host. Its predecessor, “Iron Chef America,” debuted in 2005 and was adapted from a similar TV game show created in Japan. New Orleans chef John Besh, then a rising star himself, made early appearances on the show.

Each season, chef competitors are pitted against a series of renowned chefs from around the world in a venue dubbed the Kitchen Stadium. That format will continue in Iron Chef Gauntlet, according to an outline of the show from the Food Network. This time, though, the last chef competitor standing “will enter a three-ringed gauntlet,” and face challenges from three chefs who have previously earned the Iron Chef title: Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon.

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Contributed photo by Eddy Chen - New Orleans chef Michael Gulotta will compete on "Iron Chef Gauntlet."

The Iron Chef concept involves secret ingredients meant to surprise chefs and test their creative abilities under pressure.

For his part, Gulotta has made unusual but compelling combinations of flavors and ingredients his calling card. The New Orleans native was chef de cuisine at Besh’s flagship Restaurant August before leaving to open MoPho in 2014 with his brother Jeff Gulotta and their old Brother Martin High School buddy Jeffrey Bybee.

At MoPho they recast staples from the Vietnamese noodle shop with a modern culinary style and broader range of flavors for an eatery that has become a neighborhood standby for creative, casual cooking in Mid-City.

Late last year they opened a more ambitious restaurant in the CBD, Maypop, where the menu combines elements of the Asian grocery, the Italian table, a Cajun smokehouse and French culinary school, sometimes all within a single recipe.

Tana serves regional Italian cuisine built around house-made noodles, while Rum & the Lash has a straightforward pub grub menu of burgers, fish and chips and wings (albeit with Vietnamese style lemongrass wings and a “funky fermented” sauce in the mix).

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Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty -- Tortelli filled with goat cheese are part of chef Michael Gulotta's menu at Tana, the Italian eatery inside Treo.

The small restaurant group got a big boost last year when Food + Wine named Michael Gulotta to its annual list of best new chefs.

For “Iron Chef Gauntlet,” Gulotta will compete against:

Nyesha Arrington, of Leona in Los Angeles

Jason Dady, of Tre Trattoria in San Antonio, Texas

Sarah Grueneberg, of Monteverde in Chicago

Stephanie Izard, of Girl & the Goat in Chicago

Shota Nakajima, of Adana in Seattle

Jonathon Sawyer, of the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland

"Iron Chef America" aired on the Food Network until 2014 and moved for one season to the Cooking Channel, according to a report from Variety.

"Iron Chef Gauntlet" premiers on the Food Network on April 16 at 8 p.m. (central).


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.