I've been lucky enough to work with the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) for a few events during 2016, and their Director of Development and Marketing, Helen Ota, reached out to me inquiring if I'd be available for a particular event in late April. Yes.
The event was "An Evening with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa." I admit, at first glance, it didn't click for me. The name sounded familiar, but I just kept going about my business. It wasn't until a few days later that I really sat down to prepare for the event, and then I realized...
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is a world-renown celebrity chef, famous for his unique culinary style which blends traditional Japanese techniques and flavors with South American (mainly Peruvian) ingredients. Chef Nobu, as in, Nobu restaurants....Manhattan, Las Vegas...as in the Nobu restaurant I drive by in Malibu sometimes...or the Matsuhisa restaurant in Beverly Hills. THAT Chef Nobu. Strangely enough it was his face that honestly made it click for me. Once I read the invitation to the event and saw his picture, I let it sit for a few seconds and then it clicked. He's also an actor. For any Austin Powers fans reading, he was in Goldmember. Remember the scene where Austin and Foxxy Cleopatra sit down to talk with a Mr. Roboto? They have the funny gag of sitting across a desk and misinterpreting the subtitles for dirty sentences? That's Chef Nobu as Mr. Roboto.
Needless to say, I was inspired and excited to cover the event, the purpose of which was to gain support for the JACCC's new culinary arts center. Plans for a great renovation to provide space for chef demonstrations, cooking classes, dining space and more were unveiled at the event. The evening took place at The Wilshire Country Club on Rossmore Ave. in the heart of Los Angeles. There is a beautiful reception space within and the JACCC staff would make sure final preparations were in place before guests arrived:
Naturally, the guest of honor, the chef of the evening arrived and sign a few of his cooking books before guests strolled in:
Even though the intro photograph and banner photo give it away, a great surprise was to see actor, George Takei and husband, Brad Altman in attendance.
There was a great cocktail hour on the veranda which lead into the main dinner reception:
After a few opening words from the JACCC about the upcoming project and the introduction of Chef Nobu, dinner was served (an most definitely enjoyed by all):
After dinner, Chef Nobu was the ultimate professional, and graciously performed table visits. He was happy to take photographs with any and all guests.
The evening concluded with a few words of gratitude from JACCC board members, JACCC President and CEO, Leslie Ito, and Chef Nobu. It was safe to say a good time was had by all. What an honor to photograph the night: