Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – known to the world simply as “Nobu” – is the acclaimed and highly influential chef proprietor of Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants all over the globe.
Nobu was born in Saitama, Japan, the son of a lumber merchant who died in a traffic accident when the future chef was just seven years old. He traces the beginnings of his professional ambition to the day his older brother took him to a sushi restaurant for the first time. Young Nobu found himself fascinated by everything about the environment. He knew then he was destined for a career in the kitchen.
After graduating from high school, Nobu found a live-in job at a sushi restaurant in Tokyo called Matsuei. When he was 24 years old, Nobu accepted an offer from one of his customers that took him to Lima, Peru to open a restaurant. The impact of his time in Peru cannot be overstated. Nobu began weaving Peruvian influences into his dishes – the beginnings of his signature style. After three years, irreconcilable differences over food cost led Nobu to part with his associates.
After a brief stint in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nobu returned to Japan. Upon returning to Japan, he had an opportunity to open a restaurant in Alaska, which he took. Unfortunately the restaurant burned to the ground during one of his rare nights away from the restaurant.
Broken but not beaten, and with debts to pay on his ruined Alaska enterprise, Nobu went to Los Angeles on the advice of a friend. He took a job at a sushi bar, working and using his income to make good on his commitments. No less than nine years later, after earning his way back to solvency, he opened his own restaurant Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills in 1987.
Matsuhisa was an instant success and became a magnet for food lovers and celebrities alike. It was here that his longtime friendship and business relationship with Robert De Niro began. It was at De Niro’s urging that they opened Nobu in New York City in 1994 with restaurateur Drew Nieporent. Like Matsuhisa, Nobu was a hit.
Notable citations bestowed upon Nobu’s restaurants start with Matsuhisa chosen as one of the Top Ten Restaurant Destinations in the world by the New York Times (1993). Nobu awarded Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation (1995) and Three Stars by Ruth Reichl of the New York Times (1995). Nobu Next Door awarded Three Stars by Ruth Reichl of the New York Times (1998). Nobu London awarded One Michelin Star (1997). Nobu Fifty Seven awarded Three Stars by Frank Bruni of the New York Times (2005). Nobu Berkeley St. awarded One Michelin Star (2005). And Matsuhisa Beverly Hills and Nobu Las Vegas awarded One Michelin Stars (2007).
Some of Nobu’s personal honors from the culinary community are America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine (1989), Southern California’s Rising Stars by Los Angeles Times Magazine (1998), induction into Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation (2002), nomination for Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), and One of the 11 Most Influential Chefs of the Decade by Madrid Fusion (2009).
Nobu currently has 25 restaurants in 21 different cities around the world, spanning across five continents. The most recent openings were Nobu Cape Town, Nobu Moscow, and Nobu Mexico City in 2009. Nobu also consults for Crystal Cruises, and is the author of five cookbooks: Nobu the Cookbook (2001), Nobu Now (2005), Japanese Finger Food – Nobu Style (2006) (in Japanese only), Nobu West (2006), and Nobu Miami the Party Cookbook (2008).
Nobu has appeared in several movies: “Casino” (1995), “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002), and “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005). He has participated in advertising campaigns for the Gap, Calloway Golf Clubs, Illy, Fiji Water, Lincoln Automobiles, and Rado. He has been a guest on such shows as “The Tonight Show”, “The Today Show” and “Martha.” Nobu donates his time to numerous culinary and charitable events each year.
Nobu resides in Beverly Hills with his wife while his two grown daughters now live in Tokyo. He travels the globe, visiting all of his restaurants and scouting new locations to conquer.