It's no secret. There are Iron Chefs in town.
At the press conference on Friday at the Sydney Hilton, event hosts Simon Thomsen and Joanna Savill welcomed Iron Chef French, Hiroyuki Sakai
and Iron Chef Chinese, Kenichi Chen
Simon Thomsen and Joanna Savill
Relaxed and jocular, Chen and Sakai were dressed in their signature outfits, and happy to answer questions from the assembled crowd through a Japanese interpreter.
The two chefs agreed that Iron Chef did set a precedent in popularising cooking all over the world. Neither of them expected the Iron Chef phenomena to last as long as it has.
This is the fourth time an Iron Chef dinner has been hosted in Australia. Similar events also take place in America, Hong Kong, China and Thailand although the chefs say they have come most often to Australia.
When Grant Jones from News Limited asked "how many more ways can you cook a cucumber?", Chen laughed and launched into a babble of Japanese whilst nodding his head vigorously.
"Cucumber man," Chen finally said in English, and touched his hand to his chest with a nod.
"Chen is known as a cucumber person," explained the interpreter with a smile.
How do you both look so young?
Chen: "Secret!" (laughs)
Sakai: "Rice everyday and enjoying your work"
What sort of ingredients do you like using in Australia?
Chen: Australian beef
Sakai: I visited Tasmania in April and saw really large Tasmanian salmon and was utterly surprised by the salmon. I also tried eel which were very large - eel in Japan tends to be very small, but Tasmania eel was extremely big. I thought the skin would be very tough but in reality it was very tender. So I'd like to use them both.
Predictions for future food trends?
Sakai: Grass-fed beef.
Most impressive dishes encountered in Australian restaurants?
Chen: Sheep's brain and emu egg on the Gold Coast.
Is it true that Iron Chef was created to stretch the knowledge of unusual ingredients to Japanese housewives?
There was some confusion with this question initially when the chefs explained that balsamic vinegar was not really known to Japanese housewives but became more familiar as a result of the show. When Joanna Savill re-emphasised that the question was whether this was the specific reasoning behind the show, both chefs recoiled at the thought.
Chen: "Oh no.... No. No. No. The show was not designed for housewives because this was a real battle. It's not good for housewives to follow Iron Chef because that's not healthy. They will become very very tired. Not good."
Chen testing the oil temperature with his finger
- "160C" he pronounced
The press conference concluded with Chen conducting a brief cooking demonstration, a dish of Crystal Bay prawns in a garlic and soy bean sauce.
Deep-frying the prawns
Iron Chef Chen and Iron Chef Sakai will be cooking at the Hilton Sydney on Sunday and Monday night for the 2010 Iron Chef event, a six-course degustation that will also feature local Sydney chefs Harunobu Inukai (Blancharu), Hideki Okazaki (Rise), Hiroshi Miura (Ten) and Gary Johnson (Hilton Sydney).
The 2010 Iron Chef event is already sold out.
Dates: 6 & 7 June 2010, 6pm-10pm
Venue: Hilton Sydney Grand Ballroom
Cost: $385 per person (sold out)
BACK: Simon Thomsen, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, Iron Chef Chen Kenichi, Joanna Savill
FRONT: Gary Johnson (Hilton Sydney), Harunobu Inukai (Blancharu),
Hideki Okazaki (Rise) and Hiroshi Miura (Ten)