This Is What It Was Like For Chef Ming Tsai To Cook Against Bobby Flay - Exclusive

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Chef Ming Tsai didn't get where he is in life — including his award-winning restaurants, long-running TV shows, five cookbooks, his own line of cookware, and Mings Bings, the chef's line of vegan patties (via Mings Bings) — without being a pretty competitive guy. Case in point? During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Tsai shared this little anecdote: "I'm the most competitive guy I know. I used to race my kids going up the staircase in my home when they were three or four or five, and I would push them to make sure I won. My wife's like: 'Let them win!' And I'm like: 'Never.' They will beat me, handily, one day. But I'm not going to let them win.' I'm so competitive. And to be able to do it with cooking? I just loved it."

What was it that he loved so much? Why, competing against globally renowned chef Bobby Flay on "Iron Chef." 

"It was a highlight ... Bobby [Flay], obviously, is incredible at what he does," Tsai described. "All these Iron Chefs were amazing. Morimoto San was always my dream to go up against, because even though we're the same age, he's still one of my idols just by the techniques he has, it's unbelievable. [It was] Battle Duck, and I was so stoked it was duck. Because I love cooking duck. Bobby almost rolled his eyes a little bit when he saw it was duck because he's like: 'Oh God, Ming's going to be pretty good with duck, he's Chinese!'"

"And he's right," Tsai went on. "I love duck. I knew if it was duck, I was going to do a Peking duck, which doesn't usually get done in an hour, obviously. But I was so psyched. Because I practiced it."

How Chef Ming Tsai prepared for his Iron Chef battle

"For 'Iron Chef,' you actually get three secret ingredients a month out," Tsai revealed to Mashed. "So [we knew] it was chicken, squab, or duck. So I practiced chicken, I practiced squab. ... It is for TV, so it makes sense, because if you don't practice — and some guys go in cold and don't practice — they flail miserably. You can't do five dishes in an hour, times four plates each, if you haven't practiced it, it's so hard."

"So I was very psyched it was Battle Duck," Tsai shared. "I also had the pressure of the entire Chinese race that if I lost ... I would be ostracized from every Chinese restaurant in the country, and my kids would be like: 'Why are we eating Mexican? I want dim sum.' 'Sorry, we can't go in that restaurant.' I had that pressure, too. I could not lose Battle Duck to Bobby. Fortunately, everything worked out, you never know if the foie gras crème brûlée's going to work out, or the Peking duck's going to be crisp. But it was a blast. And the hour goes by it's like, what? Thirty minutes gone? You can't believe how fast."

And on "Iron Chef," every second counts. "By the way, for the record, it's a true 60 minutes," Tsai said. "They don't pad it, they don't give you more time. I have seen some shows, if someone really cuts themselves bad, they make both chefs stop, right? Because again, they don't want someone to hurt themselves. That's the only time I've seen it be over 60 minutes, but no one was cooking during that 60. So it's still a legit, up and up show, another [reason] I'm a big 'Iron Chef' fan, huge."

To try your hand at one of Ming Tsai's recipes, check out his cookbook "Simply Ming In Your Kitchen." Catch up with the chef's latest projects on