No, I don’t mean Ted Allen. I like him, in a geeky foodie sort of way. I don’t even mean Alton Brown, although he can grate on the nerves a bit. I mean Mark Dacascos….yes, that’s his name. It’s not some Japanese name. In fact, he’s only like 1/6 Japanese. He’s a mutt….a mix of a father who is Filipino, Chinese and Spanish and a mother who is Japanese and Irish. Mark is Hawaiian, through and through. He even has kids with Hawaiian names. He is also not really an actor (I know he’s been on the new Hawaii Five-O a few times), he’s a martial artist. He grew up in Los Angeles, and was raised by his grandmother….a Spanish woman.
My issue is not with him as a person. In fact, in interviews, he seems rather nice. My issue is with his silly overacting. As the new “chairman” of “Kitchen Stadium,” he presides over the proceedings as if he’s the king. He’s playing the part of the nephew of the original “chairman” of Iron Chef, from Japan. In his limited dialogue, the one thing he says on all programs is “So now America, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of my uncle: Allez cuisine!” And then he makes a karate chop motion and the game begins. This is about all he’s qualified to do. He hams it up on stage during the cooking by walking around with an all-knowing grin on his face and smiling ever-so-slightly when a chef does something ingenious or funny. It’s just not believable. He overdoes it! He’s a martial artist, not an actor (don’t get me started on his horrible turn in Hawaii Five-O)!
Also, I think trying to pretend he’s Japanese and emulate the Japanese host of Iron Chef is not only inaccurate, it’s kind of racist. The Japanese creators of Iron Chef knew their show was kitschy and fun, and they made it that way. It IS Japan, after all, but the American show takes itself too seriously. In that seriousness, it’s not easy to see the homage to the kitsch that they’re trying to portray with Dacascos. It comes across as making fun of the Japanese and not an homage at all. The show doesn’t even need Dacascos…..they have the judges, Alton Brown, Kevin Brauch and whatever BIG chef personality the Food Network wants to push down our throats that week (too often it’s Guy Fieri – just give up on that moron already). Mark Dacascos serves no purpose….and he just gets on my nerves so much!