If there’s one chef who has made his mark on television, it’s Chen Kenichi, the only Iron Chef to have been on the hugely successful “Iron Chef” television series from its start in 1993 to 2002. With 300 episodes in the can, the show a is still in syndication today. Known for his role as Iron Chef Chinese, Chin won the Iron Chef competition 67 times. Today, he is widely regarded as one of the great chefs of the world.
Chen was born on January 5, 1956 to another great chef, Chen Kenmin, who is acknowledged as the father of Sichuan cuisine in Japan.
His father’s influence is evident in Chen, whose special dish, “Prawns in Chilli Sauce,” was inspired by a similar dish that his father had introduced in Japan. Since great cooking runs in the family, there are many comparisons between Chen and his father. However, with his resounding success on the Iron Chef series, the younger Chen’s skills are widely considered to have exceeded those of his father.
The story goes that Chen accepted his position on Iron Chef because he wanted the challenge of proving that he was the best chef on the planet. As the longest-serving Iron Chef, there are those who say that he has succeeded in doing just that. The financial windfall for Chen has been great as well. Ever since the show hit the airwaves, Chen’s restaurants have done brisk business every night, which, ironically, almost prompted him to leave the show so that he could tend to his restaurants.
Chen runs the hugely successful restaurant chain Shisen Hanten in Japan. It has outlets in Akasaka, Ikebukuro, Roppongi, Tokushima, Kure (Hiroshima Prefecture), Matsuyama and Hakata
It was another Iron Chef, and Chen’s main rival at that, the so-called Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai, who convinced him to stay, saying the show would not be the same without him. The two had a gentleman’s agreement that if one of them left the show, so would the other. They both honoured the agreement until the show’s very last episode.
Chen has set the record for most battles on the Iron Chef show with 92 battles. He has won 67 and lost 22 as well as tied in three other instances.
After a hugely successful run in television, Chen has firmly established himself as one of the best chefs of all time.