IT is not every day you get to meet your food hero.
So when I had the opportunity to sit down with Nobu Matsuhisa last night (famous for the Nobu restaurant chain he co-runs with actor Robert De Niro), there were stars in my eyes.
Famous for blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients, the highly acclaimed chef is much more than a household name.
Dressed in grey slacks, white chef’s shirt and New Balance sneakers, the 69-year-old greeted me with a warm smile and friendly handshake.
Palms sweaty and head slightly spinning, you’d think I was sitting down with Ed Sheeran – but to me, Nobu equally deserves the rock star status.
With more than 40 restaurants worldwide, Nobu has had the pleasure of cooking for Hollywood A-listers and royalty, but this sushi chef isn’t fazed by fame or success.
His driving force? Having passion in all he does and cooking from the heart.
“You have to have passion in your life,’’ he said.
“People make mistakes, yes. But never give up. Don’t be afraid to take on a challenge.”
It seems this fighting spirit and determined attitude is what catapulted Nobu to the top of the restaurateur food chain.
He entered the world of cooking working as an apprentice in a sushi restaurant in Japan when he was 17, but his love affair with food was ignited at a much younger age from watching his mother in the kitchen.
Nobu admits to enjoying Chinese, Italian and Greek cuisine, but when travelling (something he does very often) he loves to indulge in a country’s local food.
I tell him I recently visited Nobu in Cape Town and his face lights up, saying what a beautiful city that is.
He goes on to tell me he opened another Nobu – this time in Ibiza.
The joy he has when talking about his passion is obvious and in no time it feels like I’m sitting down with a good friend I haven’t seen in a while.
It’s this warmth and ease which one feels upon walking into a Nobu restaurant, where staff greet you with a hearty “Irasshaimase” – meaning welcome.
Nobu tells me that every New Year’s Day he invites his staff and friends over for a big celebration at his home in Los Angeles.
“I do a BBQ and I run the sushi bar myself,’’ he said.
Of all the people Nobu has had the pleasure of cooking for, he wishes he had the chance to cook for his father.
“My father died when I was 7 and I never got to cook for him. I wish I could cook for my father,’’ he said.
Our conversation flows from what he eats when he comes to Nobu (it changes depending on what he feels like) to what food he would never eat (snakes, apparently).
We joke about how I hold chopsticks and after a lesson from the sushi king himself, my chopstick grip is one of a pro – no not really…but it’s getting there.
Nobu is in Perth this weekend for the special event “A Night with Nobu” at Crown Towers.
Nobu head chef Leif Huru said guests would be treated to a selection of Nobu-inspired canapes such as yellowtail jalapeno with yuzu soy and wagyu carpaccio.
“In addition we have sushi and a special oyster shucking station,’’ he said.
Guests will get the chance to meet and greet Nobu and enjoy a selection of quality food and beverages.
Tickets are $190pp.