Nobu: A Memoir ハードカバー – 2017/11/7
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“In this outstanding memoir, chef and restaurateur Matsuhisa...shares lessons in humility, gratitude, and empathy that will stick with readers long after they’ve finished the final chapter.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A fascinating and unique memoir by the acclaimed celebrity chef and international restaurateur, Nobu, as he divulges both his dramatic life story and reflects on the philosophy and passion that has made him one of the world’s most widely respected Japanese fusion culinary artists.
Nobu needs no introduction. One of the world’s most widely acclaimed restaurateurs, his influence on food and hospitality can be found at the highest levels of haute-cuisine to the food trucks you frequent during the work week—this is the Nobu that the public knows.
But now, we are finally introduced to the private Nobu: the man who failed three times before starting the restaurant that would grow into an empire; the man who credits the love and support of his wife and children as the only thing keeping him from committing suicide when his first restaurant burned down; and the man who values the busboy who makes sure each glass is crystal clear as highly as the chef who slices the fish for Omakase perfectly.
What makes Nobu special, and what made him famous, is the spirit of what exists on these pages. He has the traditional Japanese perspective that there is great pride to be found in every element of doing a job well—no matter how humble that job is. Furthermore, he shows us repeatedly that success is as much about perseverance in the face of adversity as it is about innate talent.
Not just for serious foodies, this inspiring memoir is perfect for fans of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table. Nobu’s writing does what he does best—it marries the philosophies of East and West to create something entirely new and remarkable.
"The secret to the appeal of this charming memoir resides in Matsuhisa's personal simplicity . . . A straightforward memoir sure to please both Nobu fans and Japanese cuisine lovers." Source: Kirkus Reviews
"More than a culinary-centric memoir, the book carries the wisdom of a successful self-made man who made many mistakes and who had weaknesses and moments of despair . . . relatable life lessons from a passionate spirit are what keep the pages turning." Source: Eater, The Best Food-Focused Memoirs of Fall 2017
"An insightful peek into the mind of one of the world's most successful restaurateurs." Source: Library Journal
"Sweet, charming, experienced, and humble, a world-famous chef reveals the experiences that helped shape him and his thinking, and imparts meaning." Source: What's Nonfiction? Blog
"Nobu is one of the good guys who has become famous by the old-fashioned tenets of being a family man, hard work, passion, and perseverance even in the face of adversity . . . This is inspiration by example." Source: The Associated Press
The stories from his childhood were quite moving, especially as he described his relationship with his dad before he died. Matsuhisa does reference his wife occasionally in the book but we don't have much of a sense of their relationship or their family. This would have been interesting to delve more into, given how much time he spends traveling to his restaurants around the world. What kind of toll does this take on a person and on their important relationships?
The book focuses more on how he got his start cooking and where he gained his inspiration. It was not a linear or easy road but it is clear that each setback taught him something and once he finally opened Matsuhisa in Los Angeles, he put that knowledge to use.
His restaurants really emphasize hospitality and this was the most worthwhile part of the book.
His passion for his guests' experience ultimately leads to the guests influencing the menu. Several of the dishes Nobu is most well-known for started off by trying to find cuisine individual guests would enjoy. I loved hearing these examples!
Nobu Matsuhisa is clearly a talented chef and I enjoyed this glimpse into his restaurants and his cooking. I hope one day to dine there myself.
Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.