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Robert De Niro is a Hollywood legend. The Oscar-winning actor has led many high-value productions and enjoyed a lauded career. Though many fans know him for his onscreen work, few know the star is also an astute businessman. Decades ago, De Niro partnered with celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa to open his renowned restaurant, Nobu. Its success has led Nobu Matsuhisa’s net worth to expand to an estimated $200 million, making him one of the world’s wealthiest chefs.

Robert De Niro’s role in Nobu Matsuhisa’s rise to prominence

Nobu Matsuhisa net worth
Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa in 2017 | George Pimentel/Getty Images

You’ve probably heard of the high-end restaurant chain Nobu. Its locations have hosted countless celebs, including the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, Megan Fox, and Justin and Hailey Bieber. Its co-founder is Nobu Matsuhisa. And though he may be a renowned chef, he didn’t come by his success easily.

Matsuhisa began traveling the world at a young age. His journeys exposed him to the world’s cuisine. Matsuhisa began working as a dishwasher at restaurants in Tokyo, Japan. He used his time at the Matsue Sushi restaurant to perfect his culinary skills.

After working at the restaurant for almost a decade, one of the regulars invited him to open a Japanese restaurant in Peru at the age of 24. Matsuhisa couldn’t find Japanese ingredients in that country, so he had to improvise. During this time, he originated and cultivated his fusion styles of using Peruvian ingredients in Japanese meals.

Three years later, the restaurant closed, and Matsuhisa moved to Los Angeles. He worked at a Japanese eatery for a year before opening his eponymous restaurant in Beverly Hills. It wasn’t until 1988 that De Niro’s and Matsuhisa’s paths crossed.

According to Eater, the chef wasn’t familiar with the actor’s work. However, De Niro liked Nobu’s dishes so much that he quickly became a regular. A year later, the star approached Matsuhisa with a business proposal to start a restaurant together.

Matsuhisa said he didn’t want to open another eatery due to his busy schedule. So De Niro dropped the subject and partnered with Drew Nieporent to start Tribeca Grill. Four years later, De Niro threw the topic around again, and this time, Matsuhisa was ready.

They partnered with other industry elites to start Nobu New York. The chef suspected De Niro didn’t expect Nobu would be a success, saying he thought the actor simply wanted to enjoy Nobu’s meals in New York without having to fly to LA.

Nobu Matsuhisa’s net worth makes him 1 of the world’s richest chefs

Since partnering with the Raging Bull actor, the chef has expanded his reach and opened 50 restaurants, including Matsuhisa outposts. According to Wealthy Gorilla, Nobu Matsuhisa’s net worth is a staggering $200 million. Aside from standing atop a multimillion-dollar restaurant empire, Matsuhisa has also made acting cameos.

In 1995, he appeared in the Martin Scorsese movie Casino alongside his business partner De Niro. He then played a small role in the 2002 spy comedy Austin Powers in Goldmember and appeared in Memoirs of a Geisha three years later.

Matsuhisa’s net worth places him fourth on Wealthy Gorilla’s list of the world’s wealthiest celebrity chefs. Gordon Ramsay is worth an estimated $220 million; Jamie Oliver has $400 million in the bank; and Alan Wong boasts a whopping $1.1 billion fortune.

Although Chef Matsuhisa enjoys considerable wealth, his Nobu co-founder is even richer. According to Wealthy Gorilla, Robert De Niro’s net worth is $500 million.

The chef has become known for signature dishes and even a namesake sauce


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Two of Chef Matsuhisa’s signature dishes are black cod with miso and yellowtail with jalapeño and sashimi salad. The latter is a favorite of many Nobu patrons. The dish derives its delicious flavors from the chef’s signature sauce, coined “Matsuhisa dressing.”

The salad dressing combines onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, granulated sugar, sea salt, powdered mustard, ground black pepper, grapeseed oil, and sesame oil. Matsuhisa dressing pairs well with various proteins, including fish, meat, and even tofu.