Do you remember that old television series about cooking called “Iron Chef” which ran from 1993 to 2002? Since over 300 episodes of that show have been aired (and are still actually in syndication today), I’m pretty sure that anyone remotely interested in the culinary arts will remember that show. So, who was your favorite chef on that landmark cooking program? Chances are, you will select Chen Kenichi, better known as Iron Chef Chinese. Kenichi was the only Iron Chef to be on the show from start to finish. In addition, Chen won the Iron Chef competition 67 times and is now widely regarded as one of the great chefs of the world.
Born on January 5, 1956, Chen is actually the son of another great chef, Chen Kenmin, who is known in Japan as the father of Sichuan cuisine.
You can tell his father’s influence on Chen by his choice of his special dish, “Prawns in Chili Sauce,” which was inspired by a similar dish introduced by his father in Japan. Naturally, where several generations of excellence are involved in the same area of endeavor, comparisons between father and son are inevitable. The same applied to the Chen father-and-son combo as well. But the spectacular success of the younger Chen on the Iron Chef series has established in many minds that he is the superior chef between the two.
Since leaving the show, Chen has continued to be a successful chef. He currently runs the restaurant chain Shisen Hanten in Japan, which is a huge commercial success, with outlets in Akasaka, Ikebukuro, Roppongi, Tokushima, Kure (Hiroshima Prefecture), Matsuyama and Hakata
Ironically, it was the success of Chen’s restaurant chain that almost prompted him to leave the show. Ironically, and this is a little known story, it was Chen’s rival on the show, the so-called Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai, who prevailed up Chen to stay, smartly pointing out that the show would not be the same without Chen aboard, which was probably true. The two rivals shook hands and agreed as gentlemen that if either one of them left the show, so would the other. Both great chefs honored the gentleman’s agreement until the very last episode of the show’s decade-long run.