Nobu Mat­suhisa

Upscale Living Magazine - - Contents - | BY | BY HELÉNE RA­MACK­ERS PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF NOBU MAT­SUHISA

Ex­clu­sive In­ter­view with owner of Nobu restau­rants

NOBU, CAN YOU RE­CALL WHEN YOU DE­VEL­OPED A LOVE FOR CUI­SINE? WHAT WERE YOUR FA­VORITE FOODS IN YOUR FOR­MA­TIVE YEARS?

When I was a child, I used to re­mem­ber the tap-tap of the knife on the chop­ping board and the scrap­ing of the pot against the burner as my Mum was pre­par­ing miso soup and pick­led veg­eta­bles ev­ery morn­ing. This is com­mon in Ja­panese fam­ily cul­tures and each fam­ily has a slightly dif­fer­ent recipe. My Mum made us good food and in­spired me to do the same, she first sparked my in­ter­est in cook­ing.

YOU OPENED YOUR FIRST RESTAU­RANT IN 1987 IN BEV­ERLY HILLS. NOW NOBU IS A WELL-KNOWN BRAND

ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHAT IS THE RECIPE (NO PUN IN­TENDED) FOR YOUR SUC­CESS?

Nobu around the world is about good food and good ser­vice – one in­gre­di­ent (no pun in­tended too) I feel is key to our suc­cess, is ‘kokoro’, do­ing ev­ery­thing from the heart.

WHAT CAN PA­TRONS EX­PECT WHEN DIN­ING AT NOBU? HAVE YOU STAN­DARD­IZED THE CULI­NARY EX­PE­RI­ENCES THROUGH­OUT THE 40 LO­CA­TIONS WHERE YOUR RESTAU­RANTS ARE BASED, OR DO THEY DIF­FER RE­GION­ALLY AND SEA­SON­ALLY?

Guest ex­pe­ri­ence is re­ally im­por­tant to me, es­pe­cially our most loyal cus­tomers. Apart from these sig­na­ture dishes though, I’m keen to al­ways keep the rest of the menu mov­ing and evolv­ing so we have two sides to the menu – Nobu ‘clas­sics’ and Nobu ‘now’. We also change our menus from city to city, based on what’s in sea­son and can be sought out lo­cally. As I travel al­most ten months a year, I’m al­ways learn­ing of new tech­niques and in­gre­di­ents, which con­tinue to in­spire new dishes.

HOW IM­POR­TANT IS IT TO HAVE A SENSE OF HU­MOR IN YOUR LINE OF WORK? I SUP­POSE PA­TIENCE IS ALSO A VIRTUE?

Hu­mor in the kitchen is the same as any fam­ily. I am pa­tient, but chal­lenge the team fairly and will al­ways be­lieve it’s im­por­tant to en­joy what we are do­ing or we lose the essence of why we are do­ing it in the first place.

YOU TURNED 70 IN MARCH – CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS! ARE YOU STILL VERY HANDS-ON AT NOBU AND DO YOU BE­LIEVE THAT IT ADDS TO THE DIN­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE WHEN PA­TRONS GET TO MEET YOU?

As our guests give thanks to me, it is equally im­por­tant to greet and thank in re­turn. With­out our guests, Nobu would not be where it is to­day.

YOU MUST HAVE HAD SOME MEM­O­RABLE GUESTS OVER THE YEARS – HAVE ANY OF THEM STOOD OUT FOR YOU? HAVE THERE BEEN NOT-SODELIGHTF­UL GUESTS AND WHAT HAS THAT EX­PE­RI­ENCE TAUGHT YOU?

No guest is the same. I have met many in­ter­est­ing peo­ple over the years, each with their own sto­ries. I like to share my ex­pe­ri­ences, and this is how we as peo­ple learn, by shar­ing our sto­ries.

ANY PEO­PLE – FA­MOUS OR NOT – THAT YOU WOULD STILL LIKE TO COOK FOR?

My mother.

YOU HAVE A LONG­STAND­ING FRIEND­SHIP AND PART­NER­SHIP WITH AC­TOR ROBERT DE NIRO; YOU CO-OWN THE NOBU RESTAU­RANTS AND HO­TELS.

WHAT MAKES THIS PART­NER­SHIP WORK?

Bob started out as a Mat­suhisa cus­tomer. He com­pli­mented the food say­ing it was in­cred­i­ble and asked if I ever wanted to open a restau­rant in New York. At first I said no, but he was per­sis­tent and the rest is his­tory.

Bob is not only my busi­ness part­ner, but he is my fam­ily. We have a very good re­la­tion­ship as we share the same goals and vi­sion for the busi­ness, which in­cludes good food and good ser­vice, and this part­ner­ship has only got­ten stronger through­out the years.

YOU PROB­A­BLY SPEND A FAIR TIME TRAV­EL­ING. WHICH PLACES HAFE LEFT LAST­ING IMPRESSION­S?

I travel for ten months of the year. Ev­ery­where I travel, I ex­pe­ri­ence new lan­guages, un­fa­mil­iar smells and new in­gre­di­ents to in­cor­po­rate into new dishes.

THIS IS NOT YOUR FIRST VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA, SPECIF­I­CALLY CAPE TOWN. WHAT WARMS YOUR HEART ABOUT THIS BEAU­TI­FUL COUN­TRY?

Each time I stay at the One&Only Cape Town, I ex­pe­ri­ence what you could call ‘real’ South African hospi­tal­ity. The warmth of the peo­ple is what makes each jour­ney mem­o­rable and I take that with me when I leave.

PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2019?

I gen­er­ally like to live in the mo­ment as you never know what is around the next bend, but what I do know is that cook­ing is my whole life and I love see­ing cus­tomers at Nobu restau­rants all over the world eat­ing, drink­ing, smil­ing and laugh­ing. I’d love to con­tinue bring­ing peo­ple joy through sim­ple cook­ing that comes from the heart, as well as be­ing there to sup­port my staff and see them grow. I’m a strong be­liever that those who keep work­ing hard to in­crease the qual­ity of their of­fer­ing, and let things grow or­gan­i­cally, will nat­u­rally have op­por­tu­ni­ties come to them.

www.one­an­don­ly­capetown.com https://nobu­restau­rants.com/

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