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Food Politics

Politics of the Plate: Nobu’s Blues

Advice for the superstar sushi chef on how to deal with tuna.

The sun never sets on the restaurant empire of Nobu Matsuhisa, who operates two dozen high-end sushi emporiums in cities as far afield as New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Cape Town, and Moscow. But his international fame—and his signature $34 cold plates of endangered bluefin tuna—have recently brought Chef Matsuhisa unwelcome attention from environmentalists and sparked a boycott by some of the celebrities who were once fixtures in his dining rooms. In response, Nobu’s menus now feature an asterisk informing diners that bluefin are “environmentally challenged.” But that hasn’t stopped the criticism.

Late last week, Sam Fromartz, a Gourmet contributor and author of the book Organic, Inc., published a post on Chews Wise offering the great chef some timely advice on how to deal with the bluefin problem. Fromartz culled his recommendations from the likes of Mark Bittman, Carl Safina of the conservation group Blue Ocean Institute, and several other noted writers, chefs, and scientists.

Their suggestions are lively and vastly informative, making the post a must-read for conscientious diners—and master sushi chefs.