How Anthony Bourdain And Shinji Nohara Sparked Each Other's Careers

Recently, New York welcomed a new sushi restaurant that's namesake doesn't honor the owner or even its chef. Rather, according to Grub Street, the Flatirons' new Shinji's is named for Shinji Nohara, or as those in-the-know call him, "the Tokyo Fixer." Nohara has built quite a reputation in the food world, but his unique skill set doesn't exactly involve cooking.

Back in 2014, The Wall Street Journal caught up with Nohara for an interview and revealed he had previously worked as a food reporter whose side hustle was escorting foreign media around. With an endless supply of visitors who want to experience Japan's culinary scene and a need for someone knowledgeable to make the necessary arrangements, Nohara's side-gig led to "fixing" full-time. Today, his vast network is still helping him make moves. According to Grub Street, Nohara was responsible for making the initial connection between the owners of Shinji's and its chef. And as it turns out, Nohara's work with another famous chef may have turned up the heat for both of their careers to begin with.

Shinji Nohara gave Anthony Bourdain some advice

Fans of "A Cook's Tour" who began their travels with Anthony Bourdain over two decades ago may remember that the first episode followed Bourdain's escapades through Tokyo (via IMDb). Back in 2002, the world wasn't quite as familiar with the famous chef, writer, and overall bringer of coolness to the culinary world. At the time of the series' debut, The New York Times described the first episode as being "placid and predictable."

For Shinji Nohara's part in that first episode, he is credited on IMDb as being a field production assistant. "I had been writing about restaurants in Tokyo, and Tony [Bourdain] asked for my advice on where to go," Nohara told Roads and Kingdoms. Whether or not the episode met the approval of NYT, it obviously struck a chord with some of the people who saw it. Nohara explained that, "People saw the show and said, 'Hey Shinji, can you take us around like you did for him?'"

Bourdain also felt that the Tokyo experience was a catalyst, revealing to Maxim, "It changed my life in very real ways ... Nothing was ever the same for me. I just wanted more of it." And, though that first episode of "A Cook's Tour" may have been met with some hesitation, by 2018, he had gained quite the following. After Bourdain's death, CNN noted that among his fans, the overarching theme was, "I feel like I've lost a friend."