MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — His name is drawn on the napkins and chop sticks at his more than 30 restaurants around the world, but chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa prefers to stay out of the limelight.
"Normally I am the chef. Today is a tie and suit and I feel bad," he told The Associated Press, referring to his preference of being in the kitchen than in front of a large audience for a tribute dinner.
Nobu, as he prefers to be called, was honored Saturday at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival for his fusion cuisine that blends Japanese and South American ingredients.
"I've been cooking all my life. Life was not easy, but finally I'm here."
Life has been busy — and quite successful — for the Japanese-born chef who started cooking at the age of 18. He opened his first restaurant Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills in 1987 and today has 31 restaurants in more than two dozen cities around the world, from the Bahamas to Beijing. Nobu Tribeca was named "The Best New Restaurant" by The James Beard Foundation in 1995.
His latest venture extends into the hotel industry with the recently opened Nobu Hotel Restaurant and Lounge Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, said to be the largest Nobu restaurant to date. Nobu partnered with actor Robert DeNiro on the project, as he has done since 1994 with other restaurants.