The Iron Chef Battle Database is a love letter from an obsessed fan to the show Iron Chef and to the nation of Japan. It’s an accumulation of months of data gathering from various sources: Wikipedia, Google searches with Google Translate, and the official Iron Chef book.
The goal of the Iron Chef Battle Database
Our goal: to bring up-to-date information to Iron Chef fans from around the world. The world is a much different place in the 21st century. 15 years have passed since the last episode of this cultural phenomenon aired on Fuji Television. Iron Chefs and challengers alike have gone on to further glory and flourishing careers. Wherever possible, we (royal we, maybe, unless contributors magically appear) will show you where their restaurants are based so that you can experience your favorite chef’s cuisine. Hundreds of judges who have dined on exotic dishes such as asparagus steamed in $1,000 worth of lobster are now on Twitter and Instagram.
1998 – The obsession begins
My interest in Iron Chef goes back quite a ways. I majored in Linguistics at Long Beach State for a short period of time (as did my youngest sibling, interestingly enough). I took Japanese since it was a language I knew next to nothing about and it seemed a fun challenge. One of our class assignments was to watch Japanese language television on the local PBS station. I watched NHK News, then a too-cute-for-words children’s anime called Chibi Maruko-chan.
Then, the next show flipped my world upside down. It was Iron Chef, and the episode was Battle Broccoli (Kobe vs. Frittoli). I had no advance notice of this show, so I went in cold to this show about an eccentric billionaire who spoke with a booming baritone voice, dressed like Liberace, and blew untold millions on a massive Kitchen Stadium that apparently had several world-class cyborg chefs of various cuisines in cold storage in an underground cryogenic chamber.
My initial impression of the show was that it wasn’t real and the only logical explanation was that I was on drugs. Like you, the reader, I was mesmerized by the rapid fire commentary, the knife work. The giggling actresses and the bow-tied writers and politicians who served as judges. Also, the bowing. So much bowing. I was especially impressed by this episode because it was apparent that Iron Chef Italian was new to the stable of Iron Chefs and also something of a trash talker (which impressed me). The initial Iron Chef Battle Database came not long after that, powered by classic ASP and an Access database. It was fun, but then it wasn’t. Then it was abandoned, as most web projects eventually are. I moved from Long Beach, CA to Portland, OR. I got married, got a job as a web design and development instructor at Portland Community College and then on Spring Break, 2017…
2017 – My trip to Tokyo
Thanks to my marvelous in-laws who watched our young kids, my wife and I went to Japan for a week. Iron Chef wasn’t even on my radar anymore but as any traveler to Tokyo will tell you, it’s an amazing place where it’s hard to find even a mediocre meal. To say we ate well would be an understatement. We had dinner at a Michelin-starred French restaurant, had ¥85 a piece conveyor belt sushi that blew away most stuff we’ve had in the States and puffy, crunchy curry buns. On our last evening in town, we wandered into Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho for skewers and beer at a yakitori stand. After I ordered our skewers in my terrible Japanese, the proprietor diligently went to work grilling skewers of chicken hearts, peppers and tomatoes wrapped in bacon. His concentration over our food showed he was serious about his craft. It was right after that, when I was chewing on a chicken heart that both Iron Chef and the idea of reviving the ICBDB came to me. The icy cold beer probably helped bolster this notion as a great idea.
It wasn’t until we were flying to LAX and I was sipping on complimentary bubbly that I realized that I was in Tokyo and didn’t even think to go to an Iron Chef’s restaurant. I will have to remedy that on the next trip. But the disappointment did inspire the Restaurants section of the web site, which wasn’t in the original ICBDB.
Anyway, enjoy the site and please join the fun in the comments!