Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa is famed for his innovative and worldly take on cuisine. He grew up in Japan, but aged 24 moved to Peru, where he started to develop his unique fusion flavours. In 1987, he opened his first restaurant, Matsuhisa, on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
The young chef’s celebrity customers included Robert De Niro, who became his business partner in the first Nobu restaurant, opened in New York in 1993. Today, there are branches all over the world in locations such as London, Milan, Dallas, Honolulu, Budapest and Dubai.
With Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s global influence on cuisine being indisputable, he was therefore the natural choice to partner with Crystal Cruises, joining guests on a foodie-themed itinerary last year as they sailed on a Baltics cruise. Here, he discusses working with Crystal and the recipe to cooking great food at sea.
How and why did you first get involved with Crystal Cruises?
Crystal wanted to create a sushi bar on a cruise ship that would be the first at sea – and I wanted the challenge of making it work.
Having sailed with Crystal yourself, what do you enjoy most about the cruising experience?
Once you have checked in, you don’t need to carry your belongings anywhere, and you don’t have to check in again when you arrive at each new destination. The view from the deck across the big ocean makes me so relaxed. I especially love watching the sun set on a skyline – it is the most magnificent feeling.
What would you say is the key to producing great food?
For me, the best dishes are those produced by a chef who cooks from the bottom of his heart.
Your restaurant Nobu has become a worldwide phenomenon. Is it harder to stay at the top than to reach it?
It is not important for me to be at the top, but instead to strive to maintain the best quality, service, hospitality and – of course – the best food.
How has your style of cooking changed in the past 10 years?
Food changes like fashion but my cooking style is simple and I think it has become simpler over the years.
What challenges do you find in preparing the crew to work in a Nobu restaurant at sea?
On land you can buy ingredients every day, whereas at sea you cannot, so our cruise-ship chefs have to be careful to purchase ingredients that can be stored on the ship, and they must find out the best method to keep them fresh.
What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?
My own Matsuhisa Beverly Hills, as it was the restaurant that launched the Nobu empire.