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LAist Interview: Iron Chef America's Chairman, Mark Dacascos

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Although some say it doesn’t have nearly as much charm as the original cult sensation, Iron Chef America, is one of the top rated Food Network series since its first airing in 2005. Besides for some of the most inventive dishes one’s ever heard of – fish ice cream anyone? - the mysterious chairman gets to unveil the secret ingredient as well as the winner in that serious/self mocking tone. That chairman's name is Mark Dacascos, and we at LAist interviewed him about what being the IC Chairman is all about, his favorite battle, and the most delicious dishes he’s ever tried in kitchen stadium. Besides for being the Chairman, Mark is an accomplished actor, a Kung Fu champion, a husband, father, and a writer.

What is the energy in Kitchen Stadium like?

The energy in Kitchen Stadium during a battle is amazing. My parents are both Kung-Fu teachers and I fought in Martial Arts tournaments from the age of 7-18. The feeling that's in the air before and during a battle is palpable, and brings me right back to my earlier years when I was the one entering the ring. I get butterflies in my stomach each time I about to yell, "Allez Cuisine." Standing between the two chefs, I can feel their electricity. I get nervous just thinking about it.

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What has been your favorite battle so far?

BATTLE CRANBERRIES with Iron Chef Flay and Giada DeLaurentiis vs. Iron Chef Batali and Rachael Ray does stand out as one of the most interesting battles. Rachael and Giada had never competed on our show before, and as all other challengers, were not familiar with our kitchens. They were excited and nervous, and that energy, coupled with the personalities of Chefs Batali and Flay, made for a very fun hour.

Is the food really as amazing, or as horrifying, as it sometimes looks?
The food? I would say that 95% of the food the chefs come up with is simply amazing. I am not, however, a fan of any type of seafood in desserts. If you've watched our show, you may remember certain chefs making ice creams with fish, or parfaits with uni (sea-urchin).
Not things that I would order, but interesting, no doubt. I did enjoy eating turkey ice cream, though.