This chef has his global favourites, writes Aine Fox
He cooked for Princess Diana (who was a big fan of his food), has a business venture with Robert De Niro and operates fine dining sushi restaurants all over the world.
When Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa says "food is my passion and my life", you have to believe him.
The 68-year-old travels for 10 months of the year, visiting his restaurants — situated in the US, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Mexico, the Bahamas, South Africa, Dubai, Qatar, Hungary, the UK, Spain, Italy and Russia — to train chefs and ensure his high standards are met.
But Matsuhisa is always keen to step outside his own places and try other foods, visiting new restaurants and some of his old favourites when he gets the chance. So where does he go for the best food around the world?
Seafood wins in Spain
Spain, where the chef recently opened a restaurant in Marbella at the Puente Romano Resort & Spa, serves one of his favourite dishes — angulas (baby eels).
He likes them served "in olive oil with garlic and chilli. And some people squeeze lemons. Spanish olive oil is very good too".
Discussing the similarities between Spanish and Japanese food, he adds: "It's very natural. Spanish food is simple, just like Japan."
Truffles are terrific in Italy
Restaurant Paper Moon is a must when Matsuhisa visits Milan. He particularly enjoys the "delicious" parmesan risotto with fresh white truffle, available only in season around September.
Greece scores marks for simplicity
"Greek salad and grilled local fish with lemon dressing," the chef says. "They are both very simple and delicate dishes that showcase the flavours of the ingredients, very much like Japanese cuisine."
But not all foreign food is great
Chefs are experimental by nature, but even Matsuhisa has to draw the line at some dishes. On a visit to China, he once dabbled in snake soup, when it was recommended as a good winter dish.
"I don't like the snake soup," he says, laughing. "People say it tastes like chicken but snake and chicken are very different!"
So can the quality of food make or break a holiday?
"Good food can bring smiles and happiness to people everywhere," he says.
"When my cooking makes people happy, it is what brings me the most joy."