Sunday, June 20, 2010
Masaharu Morimoto is my favorite chef from Fuji TV's show Iron Chef. I was so surprised when I found one particular cooking book on the shelf of Sydney library, a book called "Morimoto - The New Art of Japanese cooking" published by DK publishing New York. It's really a great cooking book full of inspiration about Japanese fusion recipes and useful tips by Morimoto-san, the Iron Chef Japanese.
Almost 25 years before Morimoto became an Iron Chef, before he owned four widely acclaimed restaurants and released his own award-winning beers and splendid sake, he washed dishes at Ichiban sushi, a small restaurant in Hiroshima run by Ikuo Oyama, a kind but demanding chef who prepared a wide range of food, including sushi, sashimi, udon and Japanese curry rice.
At 25, he opened his own cafe in downtown Hiroshima. It was a tiny place with a few tables that dealt mainly in delivery to nearby medical offices and a police station. At night, he labored as a sushi chef in another restaurant, delivered newspaper and worked as an insurance agent at Morimoto agency, a makeshift outfit that he alone operated.
Morimoto and his wife landed in New York in March, 1985. He picked up more or less where he had left off in Japan, working afternoons at one sushi restaurant and nights at another. After six years of being underpaid and overworked, he began the search for new opportunities, and eventually worked as sushi chef at the Sony Club, an exclusive dining room that catered to Sony's executives and talents. Fortuitously, he got a position at Nobu Restaurant in New York where he was there from the beginning, surrounded by new flavors and working under a mandate not to be limited by the strictures of tradition.
Morimoto's big break came during a trip to Japan to see his friends and family. A Japanese customer at Nobu who adored his food had invited him to cook for a group of her friends in Tokyo. Although he didn't know it then, this group included a judge and a producer from Fuji TV's popular show "Iron Chef". Several months later, he got a call from someone from the show asking him to be Iron Chef Japanese. At first, he declined the offer but a number of his colleagues started lobbying him and a week later Morimoto reconsidered and signed on. Morimoto flew to Japan every month until the show ended, about a year after he started.
(Source and courtesy of: Morimoto, The New Art of Japanese Cooking)