The second example this week of Japan's passion for good food. When I first saw Iron Chef, of course, it blew me away with it's eccentricity. Takeshi Kaga, the flamboyant ringmaster and his four iron chefs: Masaharu Morimoto, Masahiko Kobe, Hiroyuki Sakai, and Chen Kenichi became nearly household names when it aired on the Food Network and gained cult status in America. In the case of Morimoto, he also gained renown for his restaurants, Nobu and Morimoto. The last episode was shot in September, 1999, but reruns are still played today. Once the original was over, The Food Network began its own series, Iron Chef America, which, while popular, failed to live up to its predecessor in my mind, if only for the obnoxious hosts.