Celebrating the Life of a Legendary Chef
I have known Shin Tsujimura since his early days at Hatsuhana in New York City. He had come from Hatsuhana in Tokyo and after a brief run in the NYC outpost, he joined up with Nobu Matsuhisa and has been a part of that world class group for almost 20 years. Here is a dirty little secret. I eat at Nobu 57 every time I am in NYC alone, which is quite often. I usually take a late flight into the city, stay overnight in Midtown, go to meetings and appearances the next day, and leave on a 6 p.m. flight back to Minnesota.
The standard operating procedure for me is to show up at Nobu 57 at around 9:30 p.m., trudge upstairs, find Shin, and share a smile as I walk toward the corner of the sushi bar by the ‘hot kitchen’ door. I would sit alone, baseball cap slung low so no one would bother me while I caught up on email and unwound. Shin took care of the rest, he fed me like a son. Always remembering my favorites, always making sure I ate whatever had come right in that afternoon and always making sure I ate something new. He delighted in that. The hospitality business is all about taking care of people’s happiness, being responsible for it while they are under your roof. Shin Tsujimura embodied that ideal.
Shin had a huge smile, an amazing laugh and was one of the best people you will ever meet. He had the biggest hands I have ever seen and they were always soft in the way all great sushi masters have soft hands. He was a legendary chef on two continents. He passed away yesterday. I saw him twice at Nobu recently, before that I watched him mesmerize a room of 5,000 people at last year’s Super Bowl at the Taste of the NFL. I can’t believe he is gone, and my life, like so many others today is diminished greatly by his passing. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all of his colleagues at Nobu.