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Rokusaburo Michiba (born 3 January 1931) is a Japanese cuisine chef best known for his role as the first Japanese Iron Chef on the television series Iron Chef.
From its inception in 1993 to his retirement on his 65th birthday, January 3, 1996, he appeared on the show from 1993 to 1996.
He made occasional appearances on the show, and even dedicated a special 1996 tribute episode to him after his retirement as an Iron Chef.
Career as Iron Chef
Michiba was once thought of as a genius for his belief that "there are no boundaries to ingredients." Michiba, who was mainly a Japanese chef, was unafraid of mixing purely non-Japanese elements into his dishes, something that did not go well with more traditional Japanese cuisine chefs. Michiba's first battle against French cuisine-trained Kobayakawa Yousei was indeed lacking a key ingredient that is actually foreign to Japanese cuisine: foie gras. Michiba was proclaimed the winner.
Michiba's trademark, "Inochi no Dashi" (eth of Vivour), a mash-up of katsuobushi, skipjack tuna shavings, and edible kelp (konbu), which he used during nearly every battle.
Despite being the oldest of the Iron Chefs, he holds the kitchen stadium record for the most dishes in a contest: eight.
Michiba was also an expert at calligraphy, and she'd often write a menu after a war begins. On one occasion, Michiba forgot to write a menu and lost a battle; on another occasion, he did it at the last minute and lost as well. Michiba explained that he wrote out part to clarify what he wanted to show and partly to notify his employees so they'd know which ingredients to buy and prepare in an episode where their sous-chef defeated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Several competitors spelled out their menus during their battle; commentators referred to this as "taking a page out of Iron Chef Michiba's book."
Michiba's tenure was halted by an illness in mid-1995 that briefly hospitalized him, and afterwards, despite the fact that his cooking skills were still superb, he started feeling the strain of being on the show and running his three restaurants: Poisson Rokusaburo in Akasaka, and Kaishoku-Michiba in Ginza, was exhausting. The introduction of a fourth judge made overtime combats much more difficult.
Rokusaburo Michiba promised to personally recruit his replacement after he's decision to retire, according to Takeshi Kaga. Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai and Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi were the show's hosts for two months, but only Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai and Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi. However, Michiba had completed his mission with the naming of Koumei Nakamura. "All my intuition told me he was the one," Michiba said. Nakamura initially refused but was eventually persuaded to accept. Against French chef Kiyoshi Suzuki in Nakamura's first battle on March 1, 1996, they lost their first battle. During the unveiling of the day's theme ingredient, Chairman Kaga said he could not avoid choosing foie gras because he wanted to relive some of Michiba's first triumph using the same ingredient.
Michiba was also incredibly supportive of Nakamura's replacement, Masaharu Morimoto. Morimoto brought Michiba's "no boundaries to ingredients" philosophy to a different degree. Michiba and Morimoto's friendship as a master and student was often referred to in the show, particularly after an episode in which Michiba traveled to New York to visit Morimoto's restaurant, Nobu. Michiba was so kind to Morimoto that he told Morimoto, "respect the old, but seek the new."
Michiba appeared on several occasions during the 2012 revival of Iron Chef, including former assistant Kenichi Miyanaga, a seat on the tasting panel, and as a competitor against new Iron Chef Jun Kurogi in the revival's 2012 "Ryouri no Tetsujin Dream Match" of Rhonda Kobe. "Live combat Special" by the World Iron Chef.