A few months ago, Daisuke Nakazawa, the protégé of world-famous sushi chef Jiro Ono (the subject of the documentary “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi”), opened a new restaurant in the West Village. Early reports say that in a city of elite sushi joints, Sushi Nakazawa is easily among the best.
While a lot of the hype around the new restaurant has centered around Nakazawa’s relationship with Ono, who is widely considered to be the greatest sushi chef in the world, it turns out that Nakazawa has a pretty interesting story of his own.
The New York Times’ Jeff Gordinier explained how social media played a role in bringing the chef to New York City, after he moved his family to Seattle following the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Deeply unsettled by the earthquake and tsunami that savaged Japan in 2011, Mr. Nakazawa moved his family to Seattle and got a job at Shiro’s, a sushi mainstay on the Pacific Coast. That’s where the New York restaurateur Alessandro Borgognone tracked him down in 2012. Mr. Borgognone and his wife watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” one night; mesmerized, the restaurateur, who is associated with Patricia’s in the Bronx, became determined to import one of the key players from Sukiyabashi Jiro to New York City. Knowing he would never be able to entice either Mr. Ono or his son, he decided to zero in on the sweet-omelet dude.
Mr. Borgognone found Mr. Nakazawa on Facebook. He wrote a letter to the shokunin, using Google’s translator to convert the words to Japanese, and sent it into the blue. Eventually the Facebook message led to an exchange, then to Mr. Nakazawa’s first trip to New York and then to dreams of opening a world-class sushi mecca in the West Village.
That Borgognone was able to convince Nakazawa to jump ship for a shot in the big city is likely because of his experience working for Jiro. Nakazawa told The Seattle Times that he got the confidence to uproot his family for work in America from working for Jiro, a demanding perfectionist. He worked for Jiro for 10 years. It took five years to get behind the sushi bar.
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