Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s New Memoir is Comfort Food for the Literary Soul

in Nonfiction by

Not many people have lead a life like that of Nobu Matsuhisa. Born in Saitama, Japan, he and his brother were raised solely by their mother, their father dying in a traffic accident when Matsuhisa was just seven years old. After graduating high school, he worked at a restaurant for seven years, in Tokyo, before moving to Peru at the age of 24, at the urging of a regular customer-turned-sponsor, to open a Japanese restaurant. What followed has created history: unable to find the Japanese ingredients he has used for so long, Nobu was forced to improvise, using local Peruvian ingredients to create Japanese dishes, which would ultimately become Nobu’s signature flare.

Image courtesy of

With more than a dozen restaurants open under his name all over the world, a list of celebrity clientele, and a reputation as one of the greatest chefs of all time, Nobu Matsuhisa is notoriously private about his life, but now, in his new book Nobu: A Memoirhe has finally shared his thoughts of his life, and experiences.

Just because his current restaurants are a success, does not mean that they always were: his first restaurant burned down, and when they were up and running, they made no money during the first three years. But the support and love of his wife and family ensured that he kept and trying – and eventually succeeded.

Image courtesy of Matshuisa Aspen Menu.

If there is an element or aspect that becomes clear to readers, it is that Nobu Matsuhisa cares about the environment he creates: hospitality is vital to every single restaurant he opens, and his own outlook on life takes that a step farther: the idea that there is pride to be found in doing a job well, no matter what the job is, from making sure that the busboy is just as highly valued as the head chef himself.

Eloquent, honest, and even poignant, the writing style is very straight-forward, but not so abrupt that no emotion comes across; on the contrary, each passage is filled with feeling. While we can’t imagine why some people wouldn’t want to read about food and cooking, it’s worth picking up this memoir for the wisdom that Nobu imparts to the readers.



Image courtesy of Alechtron

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – known to the world simply as “Nobu” – is the acclaimed and highly influential chef proprietor of Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants located across five continents. Nobu opened his first restaurant in the United States, Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills, in January 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 actor and director Robert De Niro began.   It was at De Niro’s urging that together they opened the very first Nobu in New York City in 1994 with restaurateur Drew Nieporent.

Some of Nobu’s personal honors from the culinary community include 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 32 restaurants in 28 different cities around the world.

Image courtesy of Nobu Dinner Menu

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Rachel Fogle De Souza was born and raised in Connecticut, and traveled extensively throughout Europe, parts of Asia, and the United States, before attending college at the University of California, Davis, where she received a B.A. in Comparative Literature, with a double minor in Women, Gender and Sexualities studies, and Middle Eastern/South Asian studies. When she's not writing, she's reading, boxing, or thinking about traveling.

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