Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa is a world-famous Japanese celebrity chef and entrepreneur. He co-owns a global chain of high-end restaurants and hotels named Nobu. To those unfamiliar, Chef Nobu is the undeniable expert in Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, combining traditional Japanese techniques with Peruvian ingredients.
His restaurants are extensively praised for creating genre-defining dishes. What sets Chef Nobu’s creations apart from the rest is his full incorporation of Peruvian ingredients and flavors into sushi and other Japanese dishes, resulting in one-of-a-kind dishes.
So how did Chef Nobu learn about Peruvian cuisine and, even more, about the culture? It started more than forty-five years ago when Chef Nobu moved into Peru.
Chef Nobu started in a local restaurant in Japan when a client offered him to create a sushi restaurant in Peru. Full of dreams and thinking for his new family, Nobuyuki moved to Peru and started his sushi restaurant. He was excited to show Peru how sushi is made in Japan, but the sushi culture, from the markets to the ingredients in Peru, is different from Japan.
But instead of being disheartened, Chef Nobu took this challenge as an opportunity to grow.
Embracing the Culture
Chef Nobu learned about the food culture in Peru, how local markets do business, and which local ingredients are staple and flavorful. He discovered how Peruvian cuisine is centered on great flavors like lemon, ceviche, chili peppers, and cilantro, contrasting the usual Japanese soy sauce and wasabi in sushi.
Chef Nobu stated in a New York Times interview, “I learned in Peru that I could free myself of the ceremonial ways of Japanese cuisine and experiment with new flavors. I had no choice but to embrace the local culture. It opened my eyes to the fact that there was more than one way to make sushi.” This understanding helped him create his unique fusion cuisine. Chef Nobu discovered that Peruvian and Japanese cuisines could be connected and started anew. After all, both countries share the exact source of fish, the Pacific.
And so he embraced the culture and started to create unique ways of making sushi using Peruvian ingredients. This eventually led him to a path of many signature dishes that Chef Nobu has begun.
Success and Creating Great Bonds
The great chef stayed for three years in Peru until he moved to the US for other opportunities, but he continued to create his fusion dishes. Years later, he partnered with the actor Robert de Niro to build “Nobu” a restaurant that makes its fusion of unique food inspired by Japanese and Peruvian cuisines.
In Nobu and in his recipes, you can see Chef Nobuyuki’s love for Peruvian cuisine. Peruvian ingredients and techniques are present in every dish, no matter how simple they are. His business of sharing his recipes and ingredients to make them available for everyone to enjoy is also a core value of Peruvian cooking.
Last 2017, The Peruvian Government gave Nobu the honorary recognition of “Amigo del Perú” for its work to promote Peruvian gastronomy on the global scene. After many years of international success, Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa continues to honor what he considers his second home through his work.