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Nobu: A Memoir

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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 influe 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.


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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 influe 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.

30 review for Nobu: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melcatt

    Quite a nice little book about the memoirs of Nobu Matshuhida, celebrity chef and restaurateur and the founder of the Japanese Fusion empire Nobu. His positive energy and humility are inspiring, he is clearly a born leader and teacher first. I enjoyed learning a bit more about how he came to be as successful as he is now (a long time partnership with Robert de Niro, how is that not in a movie yet?) You can't deny that he is passionate about what he does, his drive is remarkable and that bright s Quite a nice little book about the memoirs of Nobu Matshuhida, celebrity chef and restaurateur and the founder of the Japanese Fusion empire Nobu. His positive energy and humility are inspiring, he is clearly a born leader and teacher first. I enjoyed learning a bit more about how he came to be as successful as he is now (a long time partnership with Robert de Niro, how is that not in a movie yet?) You can't deny that he is passionate about what he does, his drive is remarkable and that bright smile is adorable. What more can I say ? I could not stop thinking about food the whole time I was reading it. Be prepared.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kelsey

    I really love that the Japanese title of this memoir translates to "The Smiling Faces of My Guests Mean Everything." That seems perfect! I picked this up because I thought it would be a quick read, but I ended up really enjoying his take on persevering through life's adversities, the importance of friendship, of having humility as a leader, and so many other pearls of wisdom, like: "Just a simple bowl of noodles can move a person's heart." Inspiring and enjoyable. I really love that the Japanese title of this memoir translates to "The Smiling Faces of My Guests Mean Everything." That seems perfect! I picked this up because I thought it would be a quick read, but I ended up really enjoying his take on persevering through life's adversities, the importance of friendship, of having humility as a leader, and so many other pearls of wisdom, like: "Just a simple bowl of noodles can move a person's heart." Inspiring and enjoyable.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The journey of Nobu’s humble beginnings and later his claim to a hotel and restaurant empire which bears his name. A feel good read summarized by a quote from the book: “As long as you have passion, no detour is painful”. Also an interesting peek into the restaurant industry - a great menu will fail if not supported by a solid business model and equally as passionate partners.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    3.5 Stars This was a short memoir about Nobu Matsuhisa, sushi chef who started with Matsuhis restaurant in Los Angeles, and has built a small empire of Nobu restaurants along with business partners (mainly Robert de Niro). There was just a small amount of information about his personal life as a child and I wish he would have written more about that. The bulk of the book detailed how he knew he wanted to be a sushi chef and the trials of getting to the United States and opening his successful Mat 3.5 Stars This was a short memoir about Nobu Matsuhisa, sushi chef who started with Matsuhis restaurant in Los Angeles, and has built a small empire of Nobu restaurants along with business partners (mainly Robert de Niro). There was just a small amount of information about his personal life as a child and I wish he would have written more about that. The bulk of the book detailed how he knew he wanted to be a sushi chef and the trials of getting to the United States and opening his successful Matsuhisa. He takes great pride in everything that goes on in all of the restaurants - from the food and sake, down to the dishes and how the food is placed on the dishes when served to guests. His goal is to always make his customers happy. He is not afraid to try new ways to make sushi - using ingredients grown in the country where each Nobu restaurant is located. He is a strict boss who knows how he wants his restaurants run; but at the same time he takes time with his staff, from the chefs all the way down to the dish washers, teaching them, cooking with them, helping them to become better. They are now building Nobu hotels around the world. I picked this book up because I have eaten at 2 of his restaurants. The food is amazing and the service was unmatched.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Reighard

    A nice read and a nice story about never giving up. I just wish the English version kept the original Japanese title: The Smiling Faces of My Guests Mean Everything. That title sums up what it means to be Nobu.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kim

    I LUV SUSHI

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    So full disclosure on bias. I love sushi. But this book is not about sushi. It is one of the best and important business management books that I have read in a long time. His mantra "Put your heart into your work and cook with passion" is applicable to almost every Sr. Management team in any profession. The story told is also extremely personal and you feel true inspiration as he has been able to overcome many MANY hardships to achieve global success and respect. "Whenever I hit an obstacle, I se So full disclosure on bias. I love sushi. But this book is not about sushi. It is one of the best and important business management books that I have read in a long time. His mantra "Put your heart into your work and cook with passion" is applicable to almost every Sr. Management team in any profession. The story told is also extremely personal and you feel true inspiration as he has been able to overcome many MANY hardships to achieve global success and respect. "Whenever I hit an obstacle, I search for a solution and carry on...I find that if I plow ahead, no matter how impossible that may seem, and just do my best, someone is bound to lend a hand." And his perspective of revenue as a result, not as the only objective is something that major companies and CFOs need to learn. "I now know that the character of people working at a restaurant is more important than its size and reputation. I would rather be known as a good man than for my restaurant to be known for making money." This should be a must read in every business school, in every boardroom, and for every C-Level executive.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Atria Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Nobu: A Memoir. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given. Nobu Matsuhisa, a celebrity chef and restaurateur, explains how his life in Japan and the lessons he learned helped him achieve great success. As one of the world's most respected Japanese fusion chefs, Nobu has turned his passion for good food into an empire with multiple restaurants and hotels, both domestically and abroad. Nobu has prove Atria Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Nobu: A Memoir. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given. Nobu Matsuhisa, a celebrity chef and restaurateur, explains how his life in Japan and the lessons he learned helped him achieve great success. As one of the world's most respected Japanese fusion chefs, Nobu has turned his passion for good food into an empire with multiple restaurants and hotels, both domestically and abroad. Nobu has proven that hard work, determination, and patience can bring good fortune and success. The biggest drawback to Nobu: A Memoir is that the author spends too much time giving information about his many restaurants. The book becomes quite repetitious and I started to lose interest in the middle, as a result. I enjoyed hearing about his Nobu style and the streamlining of his vision, but it does get a little tedious. I admire Nobu for his determination and his perseverance through difficult circumstances. Readers who enjoy chef biographies may find Nobu: A Memoir to their liking.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carianne Carleo-Evangelist

    I'm not sure which is more fun, eating sushi or reading about it. I've eaten at Kappo Masa on the East Side, but never at Nobu or Matsuhisas - still Nobu-san's story interested me. I loved how the book covered not only the successes of Matsuhisa, Nobu New York and the restaurants worldwide, but also his earlier successes and failures in Peru, Argentina, Japan and Alaska. His stories are fascinating, as are his leadership lessons. I love how he made De Niro wait four years-and De Niro responded b I'm not sure which is more fun, eating sushi or reading about it. I've eaten at Kappo Masa on the East Side, but never at Nobu or Matsuhisas - still Nobu-san's story interested me. I loved how the book covered not only the successes of Matsuhisa, Nobu New York and the restaurants worldwide, but also his earlier successes and failures in Peru, Argentina, Japan and Alaska. His stories are fascinating, as are his leadership lessons. I love how he made De Niro wait four years-and De Niro responded by getting Nobu his own trailer on the set of Casino. My only complaint: this book is an English translation that reads like an English translation of super formal Japanese. Grammatically correct, but in a way no one speaks-especially the dialog. I think it would have been better translated in the narrative. storytelling fashion that I imagine comes through in the original Japanese.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michele O'Shea

    As much as I really wanted to like this book I couldn’t help but find him to be tone-deaf at some points. For example, he praised the decision of a woman (one of about 2 who he’s ever mentioned professionally) who demoted herself after recognizing she could not perform her job as it stretched her too thin, making way for the subsequent promotion of her previous subordinate to fill her spot. He also talks about how he lives to serve and make happy the guests of all of these luxury restaurants/hot As much as I really wanted to like this book I couldn’t help but find him to be tone-deaf at some points. For example, he praised the decision of a woman (one of about 2 who he’s ever mentioned professionally) who demoted herself after recognizing she could not perform her job as it stretched her too thin, making way for the subsequent promotion of her previous subordinate to fill her spot. He also talks about how he lives to serve and make happy the guests of all of these luxury restaurants/hotels with a “spare no expense” approach. However he fails to acknowledge that the class of “guests” he works so hard to make happy are from a specific socioeconomic class with significant financial means, and his model essentially excludes the “happinesses” of the masses who can’t afford to pay a premium to enjoy decent Japanese food.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Nobu: A memoir provides an interesting account of Nobu-san's journey from humble beginnings, through adversity, to where he is now. It's an inspiring story about a fighting spirit and Chef Matsuhisa comes across as an extremely likeable person with huge integrity and a life long mission: ensure guests leave smiling. Although I have no doubt that he truly believes this mantra, I found that after the first third of the book, it read largely like a Nobu employee manual. Also, some of the examples h Nobu: A memoir provides an interesting account of Nobu-san's journey from humble beginnings, through adversity, to where he is now. It's an inspiring story about a fighting spirit and Chef Matsuhisa comes across as an extremely likeable person with huge integrity and a life long mission: ensure guests leave smiling. Although I have no doubt that he truly believes this mantra, I found that after the first third of the book, it read largely like a Nobu employee manual. Also, some of the examples he gave about dealing with issues in the restaurant/hotel industry were more philosophical than really explaining how he overcame them. All in all, it's an interesting and insightful look into the mind of a Japanese chef bringing his passion to the world.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    This Memoir written by Nobu Matsuhisa is an interesting story. It tells us all about how he grew up, thought of his dreams and goals in life, started to get into being a sushi chef, traveling around the world, and starting his own restaurants. The book also talks about his troubles in life and the hardships he had to overcome to get where he is today. I was very interested in his travels and adventures like when he went to Peru and started a restaurant there. When hardships like when his father This Memoir written by Nobu Matsuhisa is an interesting story. It tells us all about how he grew up, thought of his dreams and goals in life, started to get into being a sushi chef, traveling around the world, and starting his own restaurants. The book also talks about his troubles in life and the hardships he had to overcome to get where he is today. I was very interested in his travels and adventures like when he went to Peru and started a restaurant there. When hardships like when his father died happened he told us what he did to cope with the issue. And I believe that maybe how other people might have felt in the same situation. Overall, this book was very powerful because it showed us everything he had been through in his lifetime.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becky Johnston

    This wasn't a bad book, it was just not the book I was promised. Going into reading this, I assumed it would be a memoir of Nobu Matsuhisa's rise to culinary fame and fortune- with details of recipes, maybe, or his philosophy. And this is all in this book- for the first few chapters. After the first two chapters, it becomes an incredibly repetitive business management text. Which could be incredibly interesting for any amateur chefs or students of restaurant management- obviously, a person with This wasn't a bad book, it was just not the book I was promised. Going into reading this, I assumed it would be a memoir of Nobu Matsuhisa's rise to culinary fame and fortune- with details of recipes, maybe, or his philosophy. And this is all in this book- for the first few chapters. After the first two chapters, it becomes an incredibly repetitive business management text. Which could be incredibly interesting for any amateur chefs or students of restaurant management- obviously, a person with an empire this large is someone to emulate in this area- it's just not a field I find myself having any real interest in.

  14. 4 out of 5

    William Mego

    A ghost writer would likely have improved this. On one hand, Nobu is a very interesting, and seemingly very nice man. His story is one of setbacks overcome, grit, and determination. However, the very matter-of-fact manner in which his story is set forth will remind some readers of a rambling account from their Aunt Bertha. We all love our Aunt Bertha, but our patience can be worn thin with the barely narrative form both she and this book take. Master Chef, yes. Master Storyteller, no. Read this A ghost writer would likely have improved this. On one hand, Nobu is a very interesting, and seemingly very nice man. His story is one of setbacks overcome, grit, and determination. However, the very matter-of-fact manner in which his story is set forth will remind some readers of a rambling account from their Aunt Bertha. We all love our Aunt Bertha, but our patience can be worn thin with the barely narrative form both she and this book take. Master Chef, yes. Master Storyteller, no. Read this for inspiration in tough times, though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Nobu: A Memoir by Nobu Matsuhisa is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November. Nobuyuki 'Nobu' Matsuhisa clearly shows pride in his need for perfection, consistency of even the smallest of tasks, and satisfying his guests whenever possible, but there are slim tenets holding the stories together. It's as though most of the structure of this book comes only from his choices, successes, and failures, while his education and culinary work is left to the imagination. Nobu: A Memoir by Nobu Matsuhisa is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November. Nobuyuki 'Nobu' Matsuhisa clearly shows pride in his need for perfection, consistency of even the smallest of tasks, and satisfying his guests whenever possible, but there are slim tenets holding the stories together. It's as though most of the structure of this book comes only from his choices, successes, and failures, while his education and culinary work is left to the imagination.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeainny

    This memoir is simple and honest, with a straightforward recipe on how to provide and maintain quality service that goes above and beyond. Nobu's unshakeable core belief in caring for the customer shapes his work. In turn, his work has shaped the global perception of Japanese sushi cuisine. Nobu can be a bit repetitive in his lessons, but it just shows how he applies his beliefs in all corners of his life. This memoir is simple and honest, with a straightforward recipe on how to provide and maintain quality service that goes above and beyond. Nobu's unshakeable core belief in caring for the customer shapes his work. In turn, his work has shaped the global perception of Japanese sushi cuisine. Nobu can be a bit repetitive in his lessons, but it just shows how he applies his beliefs in all corners of his life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Haryono

    Interesting biography of a successful restauranteur who faced numerous setbacks with different experience during early start-up but managed to get himself up even though he almost lost his fighting spirit and at risk of losing his money and his only restaurant. Nobu is a story of personal success through series of his perseverance. It delivers an example of how a man who started from nothing to become one of the most popular restauranteur in the world.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jacquie

    The writing itself can become a hair repetitive but the story carries itself along so well it is easy to forgive. Not knowing anything at all about Nobu or the restaurants that carry his name, I still found the book incredibly interesting and worthy of a read. Nobu has lived an inspirational life and it was refreshing to read about a chef that isn't so hot headed. The writing itself can become a hair repetitive but the story carries itself along so well it is easy to forgive. Not knowing anything at all about Nobu or the restaurants that carry his name, I still found the book incredibly interesting and worthy of a read. Nobu has lived an inspirational life and it was refreshing to read about a chef that isn't so hot headed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cary Kostka

    I really had no idea who this was, despite my love of sushi. Reading the story about how this sushi chef has taken the world by storm was fantastic. Upbeat and personal, his story can't help but to instill in the reader a "can do" attitude about all things in life. Oh, and it will leave you craving Japanese cuisine. I really had no idea who this was, despite my love of sushi. Reading the story about how this sushi chef has taken the world by storm was fantastic. Upbeat and personal, his story can't help but to instill in the reader a "can do" attitude about all things in life. Oh, and it will leave you craving Japanese cuisine.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Nobu has a very interesting story. Unfortunately this read as a how to open a Japanese restaurant much more than a story of his life. He spent most of the book extolling his views instead of demonstrating his view by way of his story. I would have loved to hear more of the tale and less of his how to points.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shamala Arivalakan

    Nobu is so fun to read. If you're running a business or working in a corporate world I urge you to read this. So much of wise values to learn about business, people and culture. It was not an easy success to run 47 restaurants and 6 hotels around the world. Just a simple man who was so passionate in cooking. "Put your heart into your work and cook with passion" - Nobuyuki Matsuhisa Nobu is so fun to read. If you're running a business or working in a corporate world I urge you to read this. So much of wise values to learn about business, people and culture. It was not an easy success to run 47 restaurants and 6 hotels around the world. Just a simple man who was so passionate in cooking. "Put your heart into your work and cook with passion" - Nobuyuki Matsuhisa

  22. 5 out of 5

    Luis

    Matsuhisa Nobuyaki has been a name in world cuisine for almost three generations. From humble beginnings at a sushi restaurant in Japan to now owning some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world, Nobu examines the humble beginnings of the man that would become a legend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richard Janzen

    A fairly brief autobiography of the founder of Nobu restaurants....certainly gives the reader a sense of the philosophy behind the founder and the restaurants.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Monica Albright

    I enjoyed Matsuhisa's frank honesty and strive for excellence. It made me feel at home- I enjoyed Matsuhisa's frank honesty and strive for excellence. It made me feel at home-

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    Great book for anyone who loves Nobu!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mick

    Truly inspiring book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    vgy

    2.5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Douglass Hunter

    A very interesting read. Chef Nobu reminds me so much of Remy!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mahesvaran Sivapragasam

    A life story of the japanese cuisine maestro...how he started of the business empire from scratch...and how good network and teamwork could lead us to succes

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sunset

    Truly inspiring book.

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