Los Angeles, U.S.A. — Local celebrities and more than 220 members and supporters of the Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC) enjoyed a rare dinner experience Saturday night at its Iron Chef Sakai LIVE event, featuring a multi-course gourmet meal prepared by Japan’s most famous chef, Hiroyuki Sakai, better known as “Iron Chef Sakai”.

The dinner took place at the InterContinental LA Century City at Beverly Hills and it was co-presented by Nitto Tire U.S.A. and the InterContinental LA Century City at Beverly Hills. American Airlines served as the event’s official airline sponsor. Proceeds will benefit the JASSC, an organization established to build meaningful relationships between Japanese and Americans.

Iron Chef is a popular television cooking show produced in Japan by Fuji Television Network “Iron Chef Sakai LIVE” was Fuji Television’s first-ever official Iron Chef event outside of Japan. As each of the six courses were prepared, large screens aired live video of Iron Chef Sakai in the kitchen. Chef Sakai, working side-by-side with the InterContinental LA luxury hotel’s executive chef, Jonathan Wood, also greeted guests and introduced each course. At the conclusion of the dinner, chefs Sakai and Wood posed for photographs with the guests.

Chef Sakai was clearly delighted. “It is a great honor for me to come to Los Angeles and work with Executive Chef Jonathan Wood on this special dinner event,” said Chef Sakai. “It was a lot of work, but the results speak for themselves.”

“In my twenty years at Japan America Society, this was one of our most enjoyable and memorable events,” said JASSC president, Douglas Erber. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime dinner experience for everyone involved, and it introduced a groundbreaking form of ‘dinner show’ entertainment with the guests and chefs interacting with one another through live audio and video.”

“For helping make tonight possible, we have to thank my good friend and mentor, Mitsuhiro Furusawa, a director-general in Japan’s Ministry of Finance,” said Tomoshige Mizutani, president of Nitto Tire U.S.A. “Mr. Furusawa was involved in the 2000 G-7 Finance Ministers’ Summit hosted in Japan where Chef Sakai prepared the meals for the finance ministers and central bank directors.” Mizutani added that Mr. Furusawa persuaded Chef Sakai to visit Los Angeles for the Iron Chef Sakai LIVE event.

Mizutani’s motivation for supporting Iron Chef Sakai LIVE was both to help promote JASSC and to express appreciation for the unprecedented support from America after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Nitto Tire U.S.A. has a manufacturing plant in the Sendai area, where its workers and the plant were affected by the disaster.

“Working with Iron Chef Sakai was truly a special experience,” said Mari Miyoshi, president of Sumitomo Realty & Development, U.S.A., owner of the InterContinental LA Century City at Beverly Hills. “Chef Sakai is very humble, and although we just met for the first time, Executive Chef Jonathan Wood and our hotel staff quickly developed an immediate connection and we felt as if we have been working with him for years.”

“American Airlines was honored to be a part of this amazing evening,” said Nancy Matsui, national sales director at American Airlines.  “We welcome Chef Sakai’s return to the city of Los Angeles anytime.”

It was clear from the enthusiastic reactions from the evening’s dinner guests that they, too, will welcome Chef Sakai back to Los Angeles.