A and I have recently gotten addicted to a baking/cooking anime on Animax called Yakitate Ja-pan! – about a baking competition between two teams trying to create a national bread for Japan. It’s 80% informative baking/cooking tips with nuggets of information on Japan’s local produce thrown in, and 20% just plain typically weird anime, but really fun to watch.
Anyway, the judge in the cooking competitions, with his dramatic trenchcoat, gloves and frilly neck piece, reminded me of Chairman Kaga (“Allez cuisine!”), the host and judge of the cult favourite Japanese cooking show Iron Chef. This used to be a filler programme on weekday afternoons on Channel 5, and though I discovered it only halfway through its run, I was hooked from the get go.
*Note: I’m talking about the original Japanese Iron Chef, dubbed into English with a sports commentary-style voiceover that was part of its charm. This is not to be mistaken for the failed spin-off ‘Iron Chef USA’, with William Shatner in Chairman Kaga’s role. That was a disaster.*
Many of the ingredients that were used in the show were alien to me back then, more than 6 years ago, but now that we’re eating out more and developing a more sophisticated palate (har har…), I’m belatedly appreciating the quality of the ingredients and cooking techniques a lot more now. Far from being a mere entertainment programme, the chefs were genuinely skilled, the ingredients of the best quality, and it’s bred some big name chefs like Masaharu Morimoto, Iron Chef Japan, who has since opened his own restaurant Morimoto in New York.
Yes, the show may be over the top, but it’s nothing short of entertaining and it really did open my eyes to the many different types of ingredients and cooking techniques. The image of Morimoto bludgeoning a live octopus with a daikon radish to tenderize it (the octopus) will stay with me always.
Now that I’m a little more savvy about all things culinary, I’d really like to watch Iron Chef again, with a slightly more informed eye. How many of you out there would similarly like a chance to catch old episodes of Iron Chef? If enough of us shout out, hopefully someone at Mediacorp or Asian Food Channel will hear us and maybe, just maybe, bring back good ol’ Iron Chef.
If memory serves me, Iron Chef was a really fun show. I wouldn’t mind watching it again.
Caution –Yakitate Ja-pan! is a really gay anime. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. Other than that, the totally random plot and self-deprecating humour make it worth watching. Especially if you’re a fan of baking and anime.