Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto trained in a sushi restaurant before moving to the U.S. in 1985 at the age of 30. After working in several restaurants, he joined the highly acclaimed Nobu restaurant in New York City. Morimoto polished his craft in New York's melting pot and became a state-of-the-art world chef. His cutting-edge cuisine attracted the attention of Iron Chef' producers, who invited him to become a Japanese Iron Chef. While his cooking has Japanese roots, it's actually "global cooking" for the 21st century. His unique fusion cuisine takes advantage of Japanese color combinations and aromas and uses Chinese spices and simple Italian ingredients, while maintaining a refined French style of presentation. Morimoto is the only Iron Chef from the original Japanese series who crossed over to compete in Iron Chef America.
Iron Chef French: Hiroyuki Sakai
Sakai studied at Ginza Shiki with the late Fujio Shito, his predecessor as the leader of French cooking in Japan. While retaining the essence of traditional French cuisine, Sakai's groundbreaking Japanese-French style incorporates Japan's finest cooking techniques. His dishes fuse the flavors of Japan's four seasons with a French "esprit." Because of their exquisite detail and use of color, his dishes are often compared to paintings, earning him the nickname "Delacroix of French cooking." Sakai's imagination is often sparked by something he glimpses in the kitchen that day. He is truly a genius in chef's clothing.
Iron Chef Chinese: Chen Kenichi
Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi has been on the show from the very beginning and is the only original Iron Chef remaining. He was born in Tokyo, where his father, Chen Kenmin, was an acclaimed Chinese chef well known for his sauces. Chen Kenmin is credited with introducing Szechwan cooking to Japan, and also with creating the much loved dish Shrimp in Chili Sauce. Chen Kenichi inherited his father's style of "Japanese-Szechwan" cooking and also his flair for sauces. Because real Szechwan cooking is too spicy for many Japanese palates, Kenichi has refined many of the classic dishes to make them more accessible for diners in his restaurants. With his good-humored, expressive face, Kenichi promotes the philosophy "Cooking is love" and he offers happiness through his food.
Iron Chef Italian: Masahiko Kobe
Masahiko Kobe—better known as Iron Chef Italian—grew up with a love of cooking and travel. He went to Italy when he was 25 and joined one of the world's top Italian restaurants: Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Italy. By the time he turned 27, this genius of Italian cooking had mastered all aspects of Enoteca Pinchiorri's kitchen and was named head chef. This Iron Chef has been given the odd nickname "Prince of Pasta" due to the imaginative pasta techniques he acquired while working at famous restaurants. With youth and creativity as his weapons, he will cause winds of change to blow through Japan's world of Italian cooking.
Iron Chef Japanese: Rokusaburo Michiba (not pictured)
Rokusaburo Michiba, the first Iron Chef Japanese, is known as both "the god of Japanese cuisine" and "the rebel of the culinary world." Michiba gained his "rebel" title for his innovative approach to Japanese cuisine. Since the set code of traditional Japanese cooking eventually bored Michiba, he wanted to explore different types of ingredients, including more unusual items such as shark's fin and shark's stomach, which are not part of classic Japanese cuisine. Elegance in his cooking and his presentation is important to Michiba, who feels that presentation can move a diner as much as flavor, but he also likes to include at least one dish that is simple to prepare, so that viewers think, "I could make that." Perhaps they could, but not with the heart and style of Rokusaburo Michiba.
Iron Chef Chairman: Takeshi Kaga
Want to meet the ultimate foodie? It's Takeshi Kaga—or at least the character he plays on Japan's cult classic, Iron Chef. Kaga is the show's host, portrayed as a wealthy and eccentric gourmet who lives in his castle with a small army of fine chefs. The character's chief pleasure in life is staging food battles between his honored Iron Chefs and premiere chefs of the culinary world. It's the eccentric nature of Kaga's character that accounts for the flamboyantly sequined, Liberace-esque wardrobe he sports.