An acclaimed chef and restaurateur tells the story behind his global success.
Matsuhisa wanted to be a sushi chef from the time he was a young teenager. The first time he stepped into a sushi bar, he was immediately captivated by the “conversations among the customers…the sheen of sushi toppings, the aroma of sushi rice.” At 17, he became a live-in apprentice sushi chef who washed dishes, delivered sushi orders, and carried fish to the restaurant from the local fish market. Matsuhisa honed his passion and personal discipline for three difficult years, and when he finally became senior chef, he discovered that what he really wanted was the freedom to experiment with new cooking ideas and taste fusions. A Japanese-Peruvian businessman then offered Matsuhisa the opportunity to become the lead chef at a new sushi restaurant in Lima. There, he incorporated local flavors into the sushi meals he made, a skill that would define his later “Nobu Style” of cuisine. When the owner demanded the focus be on profit rather than quality, the author left for another opportunity in Argentina, where he found himself underemployed and “living the life of a retiree.” He then went to Alaska, where the restaurant he was supposed to work in was destroyed in a fire. Feeling suicidal over his apparent failures, he was saved by another opportunity in Los Angeles, where he eventually opened the hugely successful Matsuhisa sushi bar. One client, Robert De Niro, offered him a chance to open Nobu—the first of what would be a worldwide chain of restaurants—in New York. The secret to the appeal of this charming memoir resides in Matsuhisa’s personal simplicity. Though now associated with a global brand that includes hotels, he still remains the man who seeks nothing more than to spread the spirit of omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality, and “make my guests smile.”
A simple, straightforward memoir sure to please both Nobu fans and Japanese cuisine lovers.