RHS: Portrait by Helen Yee | Grab Your Fork
Iron Chef battles fought: 92
Iron Chef battles won: 67
Iron Chef battles lost: 22
Iron Chef battles tied: 3
LEIGH HUDSON: Hello Chen Kenichi. It’s very exciting to be able to interview one of our favourite chefs. As Iron Chef Chinese you fought a grand total of 92 battles at Kitchen Stadium. That must have been very intense. Was it very difficult to create so many new and exciting dishes for every show?
IRON CHEF CHEN: I always enjoyed the battles. Of course there were hard times, too. If I was asked to do it again? Ummmmm, probably NO!
HUDSON: I always enjoy watching you on the Iron Chef show. You always look like you’re having so much fun. What did you enjoy most being in the Iron Chef TV show?
IRON CHEF CHEN: I regarded judges as customers to my restaurant and tried to please them, the same way. For example, I tried to be flexible with flavouring, according to their taste, for example their age!
HUDSON: Your chain of Szechuan restaurants “Shisen Hanten” continues to be very successful. Do you think that you might like to open a restaurant overseas, maybe in Australia?
IRON CHEF CHEN: Yeah, I would like to if I there was an opportunity, but it will not be an easy job.
HUDSON: In photos you are often seen holding a big iron chopper. How many knives do you have in your collection and what are your favourites?
IRON CHEF CHEN: I have three. Big knives are handy as I can use them to carry food on their side, too. Once you learned a skill of ‘snap’ using your wrist by making the most of the knife’s weight, you will not get tired even if you cook for hours on end. This is a very useful technique in golf too! There are different types of knives according to their thickness, for example, for vegetables, for meat, or for bones. The thinnest type for vegetables is my favourite and I use that a lot.
HUDSON: There is a popular concept of the flavour umami in Japan. Is this also important in Chinese cuisine?
IRON CHEF CHEN: Umami, actually can be many flavours. Stock taken from Kombu seaweed or bonito flakes – glutamic – makes really good dashi. I have many original flavours unique to my restaurant. Of course it is a top corporate secret!
HUDSON: When you are cooking at home, what are your favourite things to make?
IRON CHEF CHEN: I love my white rice. So my favourite is stir fried vegetables using spicy pork or chicken to go with my beloved rice. It is really yummy!!
HUDSON: When guests visit your restaurant, are they able to taste some of the dishes you have created from the Iron Chef TV show? What are the most popular dishes at your restaurants?
IRON CHEF CHEN: I will cook anything you like. If you want a special ingredient, please let me know beforehand.
HUDSON: Finally, what do you like most about Australia?
IRON CHEF CHEN: Golf, golf and golf of course !! (Big laugh)
Iron Chef Chen, arigatoo gozaimashita.
We hope to see you in Australia again soon.
Visit Iron Chef Chen’s Szechwan Restaurant next time you’re in Tokyo.
Ahh Iron Chef Chen was always my favourite. I love that he adores big knives because he can carry ingredients on their side! An insightful interview 🙂
The lobster looks so good I want to fly to tokyo now maybe this Christmas if i’m lucky
I also want to try Iron Chef’s chilli sichuan sauce, or is it szechwan? I wonder if I could make it at home?
Chen is definitely my favourite! It’s really interesting how chefs always like to eat simple food at home and how he likens chopping skills to golf! Clever multitasking man 😉
Great interview. Chen Kenichi is my favourite of all the Iron Chefs. You can’t go wrong with Chinese and Japanese dishes! 🙂
I like to read more about Japanese chefs, their inspirations, food philosophy and themselves.