Sakai vs. Kandagawa
Originally aired 11/17/95
Iron Chef, the Official Book episode# 107
Iron Chef Collection episode# 344
There are times when Iron Chef reaches the level of sophisticated humor that one usually associates with TV wrestling. The ongoing personal feud between chef Toshira Kandagawa and Kitchen Stadium’s champions is one example.
This episode presents the Stadium’s 100th challenger.
“And who will do justice to this ceremonial occasion?” ponders Chairman Kaga. “I have chosen a challenger whom I remember most vividly. This man’s face, and voice, kept popping up in my mind.”
“Kaga-san,” Kandagawa says, “I’m so grateful to you for choosing me as a hundredth challenger. I’ll give it everything. Everything I’ve got! You’ve got my word on that!”
This is not Kandagawa’s first appearance in Kitchen Stadium; he battled Chen in the Flounder battle. This time around, he takes on Sakai, which surprises the IC French. The viewer is whipped into a salivating frenzy as the two chefs trade comments that become hotter and spicier than the previous.
Kandagawa enters the Stadium with a full retinue of stooges. After a grimly cordial greeting, Kaga gestures downward. “And may I ask why you’re wearing yellow shoes?”
“Yeah, well, I’ll tell ya somethin’, fella. You won’t be laughin’ at my shoes, after I win!”
“Hai!” snaps Kaga.
After Sakai is formally chosen, the ingredient is revealed: Lotus root.
Sakai vs. Philippe Groult
Originally aired 12/15/95
Iron Chef: The Official Book episode# 111
Iron Chef Collection episode# 348
A special challenger, for a special Christmas battle: Philippe Groult, who studied under Joel Robuchon at Jamin from 1981-84. In 1982, at age 28, Groult won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF, a prize also awarded to Robuchon, and to Claude Le Tohic, currently head chef at Robuchon’s restaurant in Las Vegas). Groult went on to open his own restaurant, L’Amphycles, in Paris. He earned two Michelin stars in two years.
Robuchon himself has a few words for the Chairman: “Although it’s going to be an uphill battle, I trust his talents. I want him to proudly represent the true flavors of French cuisine. With his depth of knowledge, skill, and experience, I’m sure he can win.”
Groult challenges Sakai — a strictly French battle. The unveiled ingredient is “what the French go crazy over on Christmas Eve, with champagne glasses in hand–”
Actress Fumie Hosokawa (After seeing some of her other work, a special BKS edition may be needed. -Keith) and Honorary Chef French Yutaka Ishinabe join Kenji Fukui and Dr. Yukio Hattori on the commentators’ panel. (more…)
Nakamura vs. Suzuki
Originally aired 3/1/96
Iron Chef, the Official Book episode# 121
Iron Chef Collection episode# 410
Rokusaburo Michiba retired as an Iron Chef on January 3, 1996. “I,” Michiba told the Chairman, “will take responsibility for finding the man who will take my place.” Thus it is that, two months later, Michiba introduces Komei Nakamura.
“Choosing the right challenger for his debut match was no easy task,” Kaga explains. But he did find one. Club des Trentes member Kiyoshi Suzuki first stepped into the world of French cooking at age 19, in 1966. From 1971 to 1980, he worked at 24 top-class French restaurants in France. From 1980-86, he oversaw the kitchen of l’orangerie de Paris. In 1986, he opened his own restaurant, Auberge de Suzuki, Tokyo.
Prior to the main action, we are shown Michiba’s cooking outfit, on display under glass. As Fukui-san explains, it “has been retired, and shall hang in the Stadium forever.”
On the commentary panel are actor Ken Tanaka, Sachiyo Nomura, and Dr. Yukio Hattori.
Chen vs. Ikegawa
Originally aired 11/10/95
Iron Chef, the Official Book episode# 106
Iron Chef Collection episode# 343
Challenger Kiyotaka Ikegawa, Head Chef of Ononishiki in Osaka, was formerly a Sumo wrestler. His restaurant is named after his father, who was also a Sumo wrestler, and who had previously owned the restaurant.
“Master Chen,” he shouts politely, pointing, “please accept my challenge!” Chen does accept, and the ingredient is revealed as horsehair crab.
On the commentators’ panel are Sumo Stable Master Wakamatsu, actress Mayuko (“pint-size by comparison”) Takata, Dr. Yukio Hattori, and Kenji Fukui.
While Challenger Ikegawa has trimmed down since his Sumo days (offering encouragement to any viewers wishing to lose weight), Wakamatsu is built like a Sumo wrestler. When asked if he’ll be OK with regular-sized portions, he assures Fukui-san, “No problem.” He’s on the lookout for a special stew eaten by Sumo wrestlers, called Chanko, but he and the rest of the commentators agree with anticipation, that much more than just stew will be set before them.
Michiba vs. Yukio Hattori
Originally aired 4/29/1994
Iron Chef, the Official Book episode# 26
Iron Chef Collection episode# 216
Kitchen Stadium was only seven months old at the time of this interesting episode. The Chairman explains that he has been searching for the heir of Rosanjin, but–
He has discovered a traitor in his midst. Dr. Yukio Hattori, President of Hattori Nutrition College, dares aspire to become a fourth Iron Chef. The Chairman graciously agrees to that, if Hattori wins.
“Actually,” the Chairman explains, “this man has two faces. One, as his official role as the fifth president of his school — the face of an educator. The other face, is as the heir to a 500-year long tradition of Hattori style cooking. The style originated back in the 1400s. It established the protocol for cooking in a Samurai family. And Hattori is the one who succeeds this tradition… Underpinning Hattori’s dishes are years of interaction with top chefs around the world.
“Also, today, I have invited a VIP to my arena, a man who is often called the god of French cuisine. His name — Joel Robuchon.
“So now, Hattori! In front of Joel Robuchon, this god of French cuisine, reveal to us all, your burning ambition!”
Sakai vs. Tomoji Ichikawa
Originally aired 4/10/98
Iron Chef, the Official Book episode# 225
Iron Chef Collection episode# 611 (Japanese language version:611-OA)
There’s a special factor in this episode: The use of Wedgewood dinnerware.
Challenger Tomoji Ichikawa is head chef at Tokyo’s top French restaurant, “W”. “For him,” explains Kaga, “Wedgewood china is both a symbol of his restaurant’s decor, and a great source of inspiration for his culinary endeavors.”
“Chairman Kaga,” says Pierre Troisgros, who greatly influenced Ichikawa’s professional development, “before your eyes, my Tomoji will defeat your Iron Chef!”
This is a French-on-French battle against Sakai. “Britain’s finest Wedgewood,” Kaga solemnly explains, “the Queen’s own china, demands the queen of poultry…” Unveiled is guinea fowl from Nagano, Japan. (more…)