IRON CHEF ALL STARS 2017 at the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE! Looking upon the dining room, all set up for the big event on the 2nd of August, the organisation crew were busy with other preparations but bubbling with excitement. All their hard work had led up to this.
All photos are courtesy of Shuhei Kosugi.
The Iron Chefs, getting a feel for the stage, the placement, and the 360-degree view of the audience all around them, we warmed up with a song from Iron Chef Chinese, Kenichi Azuma. The “Mapo Tofu song”, he called it. It was his signature performance for the night. Who would have guessed that an Iron Chef would be serving up a delicious meal as well as performing for the dinner guests?
If you haven’t heard of the Iron Chef, or in Japanese 「料理の鉄人」/ “Ryouri no Tetsujin” series, it was a television series that aired in Japan from 1993 to 1999, which then eventually went on to air in Australia some time later, becoming a massive hit. We were lucky enough to have four of the Iron Chefs with us at the Sydney Opera House for the event. Iron Chef Japanese Rokusaburo Michiba, Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai, Iron Chef Chinese Kenichi Azuma (Chen) and Iron Chef Italian Masahiko Kobe. Also featuring in the event were highly renowned chefs Kentaro Azuma (Chen), from the Two Michelin Star restaurant, Szechuan Restaurant or Shisen Hanten as it is widely known as in Japan. Another featured chef was famous pastry chef Janice Wong who is well known for her desserts. She is the owner of 2am:dessert bar and a number of other establishments in Singapore.
The dining room slowly filled up with eager guests, VIP guests got the chance to meet and greet and take a photo with the Iron Chefs prior to the show as well. As everyone took their seats to the pounding of a taiko drum, the event kicked off with an introduction from the MC of the night Andrew Morello and the six all-star chefs on stage together. With a quick introduction of the event and the way the night would play out, he also introduced the three major sponsors of the event; KIRIN ICHIBAN, Dassai and Asian Inspirations as well as the charity for which all the funds were being raised for, Opportunity International Australia.
With a bottle of KIRIN ICHIBAN in hand, all guests and chefs officially opened the event with a big ‘KANPAI!’
The CEO of Opportunity International Australia, Robert Dunn, also gave a speech talking about what Opportunity aim to do as a charity and showed a video.
You can find more information about their charity here.
After this, the first course was served. Chef Michiba had prepared an “Owan Mono” soup, Owan Mono is a traditional type of Japanese cuisine that features a number of subtle flavours from Japan, however Chef Michiba had spun this concept on its head by incorporating punchy western flavours such as blue cheese and truffle. The dish also featured scampi, grouper and sea urchin roe, topped off with gold leaf. It was the perfect dish to be paired with a glass of 2015 Grace Gris de Koshu dry white wine from Yamanashi prefecture. It is a smooth with a rich fruitiness. The wine was introduced on the night by Sommelier Masahiko Iga.
As the second course was dispersed throughout the audience, Chef Kentaro Azuma appeared on the stage, along with a special guest, one of Ehime Prefecture’s mascots, Mican! They greeted the crowd and discussed the deliciousness of Ehime’s quality produce, before introducing the second course. A sumptuous combination of Sichuan flavours and Ehime’s Iyokan citrus fruit, featuring Australian lobster with Matsuyama fried tofu. Paired with this dish, was Dassai’s 23 Niwari Sanbu.
The course that followed was created by Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, Iron Chef French. For the esteemed guests, he had served up a trio of duck with roast breast, confit leg, and terrine, served with coffee sauce and an Okinawan citrus fruit known as ‘shikuwasa’ (similar to a small lime). Paired with ‘Ancestor Vines’ Grenche, Beden Valley (SA), it was certainly a match made in heaven. The special guest for the introduction of this dish was Mr. Jin Yonaha from Okinawa Tokusan, who grows the shikuwasa was used in the dish.
One of the perks of this event, was not only getting to taste the masterful cuisine of the Iron Chefs, but also getting to personally meet them and take pictures with them. Some of the chefs even brought out their dishes to dinner guests.
The fourth course in the line-up was crafted by Chef Kenichi Azuma, and featured abalone slow cooked Shisen Hanten style. The dish also incorporated Iyo no Miso from Ehime Prefecture and liver sauce. As the attendees were enjoying their dish, Chef Azuma had prepared a performance of his own that left the room buzzing with excitement. His performance of the “Mapo Tofu” song was backed up by members of the cooking staff dancing around with their tea towels waved high in the air.
The fifth course, which would be the final main dish before dessert. A braised Robbins Island serving of wagyu beef with Shiga-Kogen miso pumpkin puree, Iron Chef Italian, Chef Masahiko Kobe’s dish of the night. This fine fusion of Italian cuisine with Japanese influences was paired with Tahbilk Eric Stevens Purbick Shiraz.
To finish off the night, we were lucky enough to have Asia’s top pastry chef, Janice Wong with us to prepare dessert. She presented a delicately crafted dessert called ‘Cacao Forest’ on the night, a beautifully created sorbet-based dessert. As everyone was enjoying dessert, Chef Janice Wong presented her signature dish ‘Sugar Coral’ for the attendees. As Opportunity International Australia, was the charity that the proceeds of the silent auction on the night would be going to, Janice Wong’s artistic dessert was auctioned off for $300.
The evening wound down with the last of the presentations and auctions, and guests left with creations from Japanese sweets meister Junichi Mitsubori. Wagashi (Japanese sweets), ‘the petit fours’ were given to the guests.
Overall it was an unforgettable evening, and although the Iron Chef TV series no longer runs in Japan or Australia, it really goes to show how these four Iron Chefs have put their heart and soul into their cuisine even to this day, and that their legend will live on long into the future.