There are many birthday cakes being served this year with 60 candles on top. And this month, three “birthday boys” miraculously reunited to meet with me, of all people—Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (who turned 60 this year) was visiting his restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel (also turning 60) in the same month as the Chinese Communist Party’s 60th National Day. I’d like to think cosmic fate brought us all together. Or maybe I was a wee bit of a stalker and asked to be notified the minute Nobu-san lands in Hong Kong. Why there hasn’t been a biopic produced on Nobu-san’s life escapes me. Its chapters are straight out of one of those dramatic Korean miniseries, complete with real-life cameos from Hollywood legends such as Robert De Niro (or “Bob” as Nobu would say), who is still one of the chef’s business partners today. The title shot should begin with a young Nobu trekking through the Amazonian rain forest, where a few kilometers away he had just opened his first restaurant in Peru. Under the humid foliage, he roasts snakes over a fire pit and steers away from large anacondas—all true, and it explains why to this day Nobu has a disdain for snakes. A few scenes into the story, the viewer discovers that one of Nobu’s first restaurants in Alaska catches fire, just 50 days after its grand opening—this also really happened. Imagine the emptiness, the defeat, and the loneliness—being so far away from home and seeing what you poured your life into burn to the ground. (This is a role with Oscar potential, people.) To be able to rise from the ashes required some true samurai spirit. And in his triumph Nobu-san had made us all winners, giving us decades of his “new style” sushi. He had the genius to quick-sear raw slices of hamachi (yellowtail) with hot oil to make it more acceptable for westerners. He was the first to turn a sushi roll inside out so the ominous black seaweed didn’t put off western diners. Always pushing the envelope, he even convinced Tim Zagat (founder of the Zagat guides) to reassess his distaste for uni (sea urchin) when he tried it in tempura form a la Nobu. And unlike other chefs with equal fame who now steer clear of the kitchen, Nobu-san still makes sushi, sometimes behind his sushi bar at home—he has a six-seater sushi bar in his house in Los Angeles and an eight-seater in Hakone. But on his recent 60th birthday, his friends (eight of Tokyo’s most famous chefs) took the chance to cater to him. There were toasts in his honor and barrels of sake. He wore a red chef’s coat with the number “60” embroidered on his back—a present from his younger daughter. All this had been a long time in the making. The chef flips over his cell phone to reveal a design on the back. The same insignia decorates the front entrance of his restaurant, Matsuhisa, in Los Angeles. It is a traced drawing of his silhouette, standing in profile and wielding a knife over a fish – shadows captured in a moment more than 20 years ago. “They say when you turn 60, life starts over again, and you are reborn,” Nobu-san says playfully. He’s sitting there vibrant with youth yet experienced with wisdom; I can’t imagine he would want to be reborn as anyone else.