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Episode Recap: 30 Percent Iron Chef

Bender learns to cook and competes against the pretentious, popular chef Elzar in an Iron Cook chef contest; Dr. Zoidberg is struck with remorse when he frames Fry for his own misdeed. 


Following the recipe of renowned popular chef Elzar on television, Bender makes runch for the Planet Express crew. The crew is not enthusiastic about this proposition, but as they try to escape and hide under the polar ice caps, Bender catches them and herds them to the table. Dr. Zoidberg dawdles in the Professor’s lab and fiddles with, and breaks, the space ship in a bottle that the Professor has forbidden him to touch. At brunch, the food is awful-the Professor tries to dispose of his brunch in a worm hole which, unfortunately, ends just above his head, and Leela puts hers in a plant, which dies. Bender overhears his fellow crew members denigrating his food and runs away. 

In the streets of New York, Bender comes upon Elzar’s restaurant and goes in, begging Elzar to take him on as a protege, but Elzar refuses. Back at Planet Express Dr. Zoidberg decides to frame Fry for wrecking the ship in a bottle and sets about doing so. In a railroad yard, Bender meets two human hobos who take him to the Hobo Planetoid where Bender tastes a delicious pie made by a very old man, Helmut Spargel. Years ago, Helmut Spargel had been the premier chef on Earth, but was replaced by a very young and disrespectful Elzar. Bender describes his negative experience with Elzar, and Helmut says that since Bender is a robot and has no sense of taste, he is a perfect candidate to be a great chef since he can capture the pure zen of flavor. Helmut proceeds to teach Bender to cook. On Earth, the Professor discovers his spaceship in a bottle is broken and summons the crew to find the guilty member. All clues point to Fry, and Fry admits to it and pays up when he finds out the cost is only ten dollars-Dr. Zoidberg is wracked with guilt. Bender’s chef training is complete, but his test meal makes Helmut’s stomach explode. Before Helmut dies, he gives Bender a vial of the essence of pure flavor and makes him promise to get revenge on Elzar. 

Bender challenges Elzar to a cook off on the Iron Cook television show, stating he is avenging Elzar’s destruction of Helmut and has an extra leg up since he is 30% iron. The Iron Cook show gets underway, with Harlem Globetrotter Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate and Martha Stewart’s head in a jar as two of the judges. The cooking ingredient with which Bender and Elzar will compete is the classic Soylent Green. The contestants slice, dice and simmer, with Elzar creating a working pastry replica of downtown Venice. Bender’s food looks awful, but at the end he sprinkles some of the liquid from Helmut’s vial on each dish. In the audience, Dr. Zoidberg’s guilt is peaked when Fry can’t afford to buy a commemorative turkey baster. Bender wins the title of Iron Chef-his food may be ugly, but it is deliriously delicious. After the winner is announced, Dr. Zoidberg confesses his guilt in the bottled ship incident, admits framing Fry and tries to kill himself with a highly valuable antique sword, which just bends on his shell and is ruined. Back at Planet Express, the Professor discovers that the essence of flavor in the vial from Helmut is pure water-Fry surmises that the real gift Helmut gave Bender was the gift of confidence. The Professor then adds that it is ordinary water laced with LSD. The crew enthusiastically heads to have brunch cooked by Bender with plenty of his new found confidence.