SEATTLE - He's one of the best sushi chefs in Seattle. Taichi Kitamura's talent for turning raw fish into edible delights are well known in the city and at his restaurant, Sushi Kappo Tamura.
"We do authentic Japanese cuisine using local, sustainable, season products," said Kitamura.
His reputation is so well known, last fall he received a phone call from TV producers at the Food Network.
"I knew about the Iron Chef but that wasn't the show they were calling me about," said Kitamura.
No. They wanted the Seattle chef to fly to New York for a chance to challenge one of the food network biggest stars on the TV show, Beat Bobby Flay.
On the show, up-and-coming cooks battle each other in a timed cooking contest. The winner then challenges Bobby Flay to beat them with their own signature dish.
Kitamura said, "It's like a casual version of Iron Chef except I'm actually by myself. I don't have any assistant."
Adding to the heat are food celebrity judges.
Despite the pressure cooker environment, Kitamura wouldn't let himself be rattled. "This time is was Giada De Laurentiis and Michael Simon. And I got a little kiss on the check from Giada so that was worth going to New York City for," Kitamura joked.
"I was only nervous when I actually stood in the studio and they announced the secret ingredient," Kitamura explained. "I thought it was a good opportunity to test me and how I work under pressure."
But Kitamura says he wasn't just battling for the chance to take on Bobby, he wanted to win for the city he calls home.
"I wanted to make the Seattle restaurant community proud and Seattle in general. Seattle is a wonderful food city. A lot of talent and ingredients in this city and I wanted the world to know that," said Kitamura.
You'll have to tune in tonight, Thursday to see how he does, but Kitamura hopes he represented himself, and Seattle, well.
"I am happy I did it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
Taichi Kitamura will be on Beat Bobby Flay at 10:00 PM on March 5th on the Food Network.