Rokusaburo Michiba
Born: January 03, 1931
Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Cooking Style : Japanese Cuisine
TV Shows : Iron Chef
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Rokusaburo Michiba Michiba Rokusaburō, born January 3, 1931 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan,) is a Japanese cuisine chef most notable as the first Iron Chef Japanese on the television series Iron Chef. He was on the show from its inception in 1993 until his retirement on his 65th birthday, January 3, 1996. After his retirement as an Iron Chef, he made sporadic appearances on the show, and producers even dedicated a special 1996 tribute episode to him called The Legend of Michiba. Rokusaburo Michiba originally balked at his blue attire (a samue outfit with a flat cap), but was flattered into wearing it.

According to his introduction, Rokusaburo Michiba was once considered a maverick for his philosophy of "there are no borders to ingredients." Although primarily a Japanese chef, Michiba was unafraid of incorporating decidedly non-Japanese elements into his dishes — something that did not sit well with more traditionalist-minded Japanese cuisine chefs. Indeed, in his first battle against French cuisine-trained Kobayakawa Yousei, Michiba was given a theme ingredient virtually foreign to Japanese cuisine: foie gras. Michiba was declared the winner. In fact, of his outstanding career win-loss record of thirty-two wins, five losses, and one tie, he, arguably, can take some personal and professional satisfaction that his record against the traditionalists is a fine ten wins and one loss.

Michiba's trademark was katsuobushi a combination of skipjack tuna shavings and a form of edible kelp called "konbu," which he used during virtually every battle. He is also widely credited with introducing mayonnaise into Japanese cuisine. Michiba was also skilled in calligraphy, often using precious minutes, usually at the beginning of a battle, to write a menu. On one occasion, however, Michiba forgot to write a menu and lost a battle; on another occasion, he did it at the last moment and lost as well. His imaginative mind and skills allowed him to, on occasion, finish a battle earlier than expected and prepare extra dishes. Despite being the oldest of the Iron Chefs, he holds the Kitchen Stadium record for most dishes in a battle: eight. In each contest, he would also try to create one dish that an ordinary person could duplicate without specialized equipment or knowledge.

Because of his age, experience, and excellent time management skills, Rokusaburo Michiba was regarded as the senior Iron Chef. His cuisine is often considered to be neo-Japanese in style.

Michiba's tenure was interrupted by an illness in mid-1995 that briefly hospitalized him, and afterwards, although his cooking form was as good as ever, he began tiring from the stress of appearing on the show and running his three restaurants: Poisson Rokusaburo in Akasaka, and Ginza Rokusan-tei and Kaishoku-Michiba in Ginza. It only worsened during overtime battles which were made possible by the addition of a fourth judge.

According to Takeshi Kaga, after his decision to retire, Rokusaburo Michiba vowed to personally recruit his successor. The show continued with just Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai and Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi for two months. But, finally, it was announced that Michiba had completed his mission with the naming of Koumei Nakamura. "All my instincts told me he was the one," said Michiba. Initially, however, Nakamura refused, but was convinced to accept. Nakamura's first battle on March 1, 1996 was against French chef Suzuki Kiyoshi. During the introduction of the theme ingredient of the day, Chairman Kaga stated that he could not resist choosing foie gras, wanting to relive some of the magic of Michiba's first victory using the same ingredient.

Michiba was also extremely supportive of Nakamura's successor, Masaharu Morimoto. Inarguably, Morimoto took Michiba's "no borders to ingredients" philosophy to a different level. The show often referred to the relationship between Michiba and Morimoto as that between master and student, especially after an episode when Michiba flew to New York to visit Morimoto's restaurant, Nobu. So supportive of Morimoto was Michiba that, before his infamous New York battle with chef Bobby Flay, Michiba gave Morimoto a large box of katsuobushi flakes with a hand-calligraphed message: "respect the old, but seek out the new."


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Rokusaburo Michiba
Rokusaburo Michiba Michiba Rokusabur?, born January 3, 1931 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan,) is a Japanese cuisine chef most notable as the first Iron Chef Japanese on the television series
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