"Teppanyaki Takedown" (TV Series Pilot)
"Teppanyaki Takedown" (TV Series Pilot)
"Tattoo Mike" Monzon battles the world's top teppanyaki masters in a series that's part food show, part chef-on-chef violence.
"Tattoo Mike" Monzon battles the world's top teppanyaki masters in a series that's part food show, part chef-on-chef violence. Read more
About this project
This ain’t your Daddy’s Benihana, baby...
This is in-your-face, Japanese-style flat iron teppanyaki cooking – people so close to the action they could lose a finger. Totally interactive, absolute theatre, awesome food. This is where beef, shrimp and noodles become dangerous flying objects, and dinner becomes chef-on-chef violence. Put your protective glasses on, folks – this is TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN.
And through this Kickstarter page, you can help us create the pilot episode!
Please consider "fanning the fires" of this really singular project, taking a front-row seat in what we think will be by this time next year one of television's hottest new food series. We have a culinary art that's trending, and a content market drawn to experiential, personality-driven vehicles. As you'll see in our trailer, there are few TV personalities quite like Tattoo Mike. Be a part of this!
Seattle-based Mike Monzon, known in the industry as “Tattoo Mike,” is perhaps the top teppanyaki master in North America. A former tattoo artist, this half-Asian/half-American self-taught chef has made a name for himself with a style all his own. Besides his remarkably creative choice of ingredients and presentation, Mike’s mesmerizing to watch. He’s considered one of the world’s fastest masters at slinging blades, and coming up with new tricks to delight his audience. And he’s developed quite a devoted following. But seeing Tattoo Mike outside the restaurant, draped in tats and waist-length hair, you might expect flashing lights to be following him, too.
“You won’t see me rolling taki at no sushi bar, no way man,” he laughs. “I don’t have the schooling or the look for that. No, I’m from the streets, man. I’m your parents’ worst nightmare.”
TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN will be shot in 13 different cities – Seattle, Bismarck, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Toronto, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Portland and Tokyo. Tattoo Mike challenges the top teppanyaki masters in each city, brandishing his unique Wu Tang style of flat-iron cooking against both old school and contemporary chefs. Sometimes Mike wins; other times he’s taken down. Each chef will be given one half-hour to prepare, cook and present the dishes. A panel of judges will preside over the competition – one master chef, one celebrity – complemented by the metered response of those watching (and eating) in the restaurant, as well as the “likes,” Tweets and votes on those participating via social media. Performances will be judged on both the style of each master, as well as the final product. Much like “Iron Chef,” it’s not just about speed and theatrics – it’s also about the food.
Expert judges could include master chefs like Food Network icons like Anne Burrell of “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” or Beau MacMillan of “Worst Cooks in America.”* The master chef will meticulously deconstruct each performance and presentation, breaking down the cooking as a television football analyst might review a play from scrimmage, using super slow-motion replays and telestrators, revealing to the audience the true craftsmanship – and flawed execution – often missed in the flame and fury of teppanyaki. No bad cuts will go unpunished.
Celebrity judges will come from the world of sports, television and feature film, each uniquely associated with the competition city, all with a passion for food and the art of teppanyaki – and not necessarily unmoved by flame and fury. Scoring will be on a 1-10 scale, with the score of a 3rd judge – everyone else in the restaurant – registered on an applause meter. The 4th judge will be online.
Each cooking segment will also be webcast live on the TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN website, with links to its Facebook page and Twitter account, giving an opportunity for people all over the world to rate the performances in real-time. They won’t be able to taste the food, but they may in fact prove to be the final, tie-breaking vote. They’ll also pepper the performances with their crawling comments, which will appear in the broadcast episode.
Like "Dancing With the Stars," TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN will feature taped segments tracking Tattoo Mike and the local master as each prepares for the competition – Mike as he acquaints himself with the town and the teppanyaki scene there; his opponent as he prepares for Mike. Viewers will see what it takes for these masters to source the best meats, fish and vegetables in each city, to assemble and sharpen their weapons of choice, and to ready themselves both physically and mentally for the taming of the teppan.
* Suggested judges.
TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN will be produced experientially, irreverently, kinetically – It’s part-cooking show, part-sporting event, part-WWF. The broadcast design will immerse viewers in an almost fantasy-like, pan-Pacific culinary clash of titans, each takedown powered by a driving bed of cross-culture hip-hop and dub-step music, wrapped in original Japanese anime – Tattoo Mike and his nemesis, pitted in an epic warrior battle straight out of Mortal Combat. Audience Whereas most food shows, as well as competition shows like “Dancing With the Stars” and even “American Idol,” are actually trending toward older audiences, TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN is expected to perform extremely well in the 18-34 demographic – much like “Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off,” the top-rated show on the Food Network in January 2012.
Through its gamer/anime broadcast design, music bed and editing style, its unique use of social media and interactive web elements, youth-centric taped segments, and of course its street-smart, well-inked, trash-talking host pitted against equally brash young masters, TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN will break new ground in the genre. And the art of teppanyaki itself.
Again, this ain’t your Daddy’s Benihana, baby…
The extraordinary show open will be created by one of the most celebrated broadcast design teams on the West Coast and will immediately engage and captivate viewers and introduce Tattoo Mike and the new wave of teppanyaki dining.
Mike is then seen in the destination city, walking the streets and setting up that evening’s takedown. In a partly-scripted, partly improvised segment, much like “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” the series now takes on a travel show feel – an irreverent, unguarded fish-out-of-the-water foodie on the road. Like Bourdain, Mike immerses himself, explores, discovers and shares his experiences in his own inimitable way, learning about what makes teppanyaki different in every part of the world – the local foods used, the style of the masters, the expectations of the audience. He’s certain he’ll prevail over the hometown chef… but at the same time, he’s fully aware of what it’ll take for an outsider like him to parachute in with blades slinging and take a master down on his own flat-iron.
Taped segments then set up the local teppanyaki master, seeing him at work, at home, learning how he came to be at the top of his craft – and conveying his absolute, indefatigable assurance that no one – especially some tattooed punk from Seattle – is going to out-sling him. We’ll see Mike again, exploring the challenge city, checking out the local Japanese steakhouses, knocking back saki with young people and hearing what draws them to these places.
Now, for the Main Event… Each master takes to the teppan, demonstrating a searing display of their talents, providing a running commentary on what they’re preparing, how they’re doing it, detailing their nod to the tradition of Japanese flat-iron cooking, and their own take on the craft. The judges will also talk viewers through the performance. The hometown master goes first. Mike follows. The live-to-tape, half-hour cooking demonstrations will be edited down, making the world’s most kinetic style of cooking that much faster. In just two short segments, viewers looking for how-tos will find them every few seconds – not unlike “Iron Chef.” The pace will be captivating. And a bet is made… If the local master wins, he takes home $10,000 – and Mike washes the dishes. The verdict again rendered by the scores of the panel of judges, the audience meter at the restaurant, and lastly the votes cast by those at home watching the live webcast and logged into social media. A perfect score is 40.
Every episode builds toward the final TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN – a challenge in the Home Country, Japan. Here, they look at teppanyaki cooking as a highly schooled sushi chef might look at a California roll – an American bastardization of a cherished national tradition. And yet, there are no shortages of masters plying the craft in Tokyo. And no better place for a season finale.
At the end of each episode, viewers will be encouraged to go to the TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN website, Twitter account and special Facebook pages created for each competing master, register their “likes” and add to a running tally of votes leading to a “Tokyo Takedown.” This season-long online balloting, together with the top judges scores from each of the 12 destination cities, will determine The Grandmaster, or Sōke 宗家, the season’s best chef. He (or she) will be bestowed the coveted menkyo kaiden, winning an additional $25,000 and an invitation to join Tattoo Mike on a trip to Tokyo, to take on the top master there in a three-way battle of teppanyaki titans.
WHO ARE WE?
Seattle-based Executive Producer Michael Harris has a 25-year-plus track record of producing and placing original content for national and international television. As a longtime Contributing Producer and Video Journalist for ABC News' top-rated "Good Morning America," Michael's work reaches millions of viewers. And in fact, a series that he created, produced, wrote, shot and edited called "Yahoo! Trends With Pamela Woon" reached over nine million viewers on 383 stations every week, including every Friday on ABC's "World News Now." The series also was seen on Yahoo! platforms, with a worldwide reach of 621 million unique users a month. He's a member of the Board of Directors of the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and his work has been nominated for 45 Emmy Awards in 15 different categories, winning nine Regional Emmys (WA, OR, ID, MT and AK) and two Primetime Emmys. He is widely considered one of the top independent producers in the market.
Our host Mike Monzon is a tattoo artist-turned-teppanyaki master, now thought to be one of the best – if not the best – this side of Tokyo. His self-dubbed Wu Tang style of cooking is completely singular in the world of teppan arts, mixing theatrics and culinary mastery with a hilarious, quick-witted running dialogue that captivates diners. "Tattoo Mike" is also exactly what he appears to be – off the street, off-script, occasionally off-center, always himself. Supported by our project partner Sergelen “Segi” Vandandorj and his world-renowned traveling troupe of teppanyaki masters, the S Crew, "Teppanyaki Takedown" is geared up to deliver an extraordinary viewing experience, tapping into a exploding food trend, and building an enduring, multi-platform vehicle around what we feel is a one-of-a-kind personality. The table is set for a great show. We just need a few angels to help us serve it up.
HOW DO I PLEDGE?
Just click the green “Back This Project” button in the upper right-hand corner or on one of the little green buttons in each pledge box. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a Reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. You must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded.
What if we don’t reach our goal? If funding fails, all pledges are canceled and that's that. Your card is not charged, it’s like nothing ever happened. Please donate today!
Can we exceed our goal? Absolutely. Our goal of $40,000 is, as we say below in "Risks and Challenges," is the very minimum of what we need to complete our pilot episode. If we top that goal, we'll put it toward show #2. We hope to have the pilot ready for broadcast by the end of this year or beginning of 2014.
Rewards? Check them out! We've come up with some very creative pledge rewards, at a number of different levels, including a chance for you and your friends to brave the teppan – a dinner prepared especially for you by Tattoo Mike and the famed S Crew. Or perhaps you'd like to be a "teppanyaki master for a day," learning the craft from Mike and the S Crew and then plying your new talents for your friends. Or maybe you'd like a VIP seat at the teppan table during one of our shoots. You can also pledge a smaller amount and get on our mailing list, getting exclusive updates on the production. There are many ways you can get involved.
Can I donate outside the United States? Yes! Just click on the Amazon Payment Button and you'll see that you can pay with a credit card from any country. But you will have to finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. If you have any problems just contact Baby Wild Films and we'll be happy to walk you through it.
INTERESTED IN PLAYING A LARGER ROLE ON THE FILM?
There are full Executive Producer credits available at the $25,000 level, bringing you to the table of "Teppanyaki Takedown" as a critical member of our creative team. These larger donations may be tax-deductible through our 501(c)(3) Fiscal Sponsor. Please contact Baby Wild Films directly with queries about participating at this level.
Michael Harris / firstname.lastname@example.org
Baby Wild Films / (206) 467-6722
Follow us on Twitter! @TeppanyakiTD
TEPPANYAKI TAKEDOWN is produced in Seattle by Baby Wild Films, in association with S Crew. The series is produced, written, directed and edited by 11-time Emmy-winning filmmaker and ABC Contributing Producer Michael Harris. Executive Producer is Michael Harris. Co-Created by Michael Harris and Sergelen “Segi” Vandandorj. Director of Photography is Kevin Ely of Pacific Image Productions. Original music by seven-time ASCAP Award-winning composer Tim Truman and Wayne Walters. Hosted and narrated by Mike Monzon.
© 2013 Teppanyaki Takedown LLC
Risks and challenges
A project budget of $40,000 for a broadcast hour is exceptionally low – a similar-genre national series would be budgeted at about $500,000 per episode or more. So the biggest immediate risk/challenge we face after we are successfully funded through Kickstarter is moving forward and creating the pilot episode with this relatively small amount of money. However, we have a extraordinarily talented host who's doing this pilot project for free, as well as our principal creative, Michael Harris, who's not only the executive producer and co-creator of "Teppanyaki Takedown" but also its producer, writer, second-camera photographer, editor and music director and owns much of the equipment we need to fulfill our commitments. We're fully confident we can produce a state-of-the-industry show with $40,000. In fact, we produced the five-minute trailer you see for free. Imagine what we can do with your pledge.
There are additional risks involved in any television production, especially a new one like this. "Teppanyaki Takedown" is very dependent on its two key personnel – our host and our executive producer/principal creative. Should something unanticipated befall Tattoo Mike Monzon or Michael Harris between the time we are successfully funded and the production of our show – i.e., a health emergency – the project would need to be delayed until both are available. If the dilemma is serious enough that one or both simply cannot participate, there's a possibility we could be forced to cancel the project and return all pledges. However, short of a major medical crisis or other “Force Majeure," both Tattoo Mike and Michael are fully committed to seeing the project through to completion. Wild horses couldn't drag them away.
We anticipate the pilot project to be a resounding success, reaching millions of people worldwide over a wide range of platforms. However, as with any entertainment entity and especially television, even the best new shows sometimes don't get picked up by major cable or broadcast networks. If you build it, it doesn't always mean they will come. But just because a pilot doesn't score a primetime slot on the Food Channel doesn't mean millions won't see it – the nice thing about producing content in this brave new multi-platform world means that there are endless ways a show like this can get distributed to a wide audience. We may in fact get that major acquisition deal for "Teppanyaki Takedown," but even if we don't – or perhaps it takes longer than we anticipated to make that deal – we still have other great irons on the fire to get the show out there. We'll also have a completed, independently produced special that we're free to disseminate however we please. And we'll be able to make the show exactly as we see fit – and how we've told all of you on Kickstarter we're going to do it – rather than being beholden to another entity to tell us what to do and how to do it. That's actually a big advantage over signing a deal before its done.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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