Behind The Nobu Brand With Buckley

Nobu’s Corporate Executive Chef Thomas Buckley is celebrated the world over for his masterful technique, innovative recipes and ability to create unparalleled culinary works of art. Buckley, who opened Nobu’s Miami outpost some 10 years ago, was a born chef, inheriting the flair for food from his father. His career has taken him to different corners of the world, working under fellow culinary greats as Chef Daniel Boulud. Today, Buckley travels extensively to oversee the more than 20 Nobu locations. Although the brand is technically categorized as a restaurant chain, there’s nothing run-of-the-mill about it.

1901 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 For dessert, I always go for something light. The Miso Cappuccino is very nice; it’s savory and sweet.

How did you begin your career in the culinary world?

I had a few summer jobs and one was in a seasonal café. I met a young guy who was going to the local culinary school, and he seemed very passionate and excited. I really enjoyed working in that kind of environment. The year after that, I took another job in a big hotel as a server while I was going to school, and [eventually] I asked to move into the kitchen. I think I was 16 at the time. I liked it, it was very different and [there were] a lot of characters. Then I decided to go to the culinary institute. I was raised by a single parent, [and when] I told my mother she told me that my father was a chef. I never knew until then, so [I am] second generation.

What brought you to Nobu Miami, and what makes this outpost different?

I was in Nobu London originally [when] they said to me, ‘We’re opening a small restaurant in Miami, would you like to go for a couple of years?’ And I said I would. It’s been 10 years. I am now a Corporate Chef, so I am traveling among the restaurants and I see their take on things. What makes Nobu unique, although it’s considered a chain, [is that] it isn’t. Each city has their own spin on a dish by using local products from that area.

What are some of the best items on the menu?

I am very partial to our special, we call it Lobster Risotto. It’s basically a Japanese-style cooking pot for cooking rice. It’s a very Japanese dish, but we add a European touch to it. It’s very decadent. I like the Wagyu Tartare. It’s got a little bite to it, and again it takes Japanese and European influences and kind of marries them together. For dessert, I always go for something light. The Miso Cappuccino is very nice; it’s savory and sweet.

When you’re not enjoying your own cooking, where can we find you dining?

I am always partial to a good steak. I cook at home a lot. I do enjoy Spanish tapas. Family style dining, I think, is the best way to eat because you get to taste different things. I’m definitely partial to Asian food in general, though.

What’s your favorite drink?

If I drink, I like a nice well-made gin and tonic. I love the resurgence in the classic cocktail culture right now, that whole speakeasy [thing] that is going on. Mixologists are really pursuing that craft again.

Who are your heroes?

The many people that I have chosen to work with. Keith Floyd showed me one side of it, the ‘showbiz’ and ‘flamboyant’ side. The Michelin star restaurant in France [where I worked] showed me a style of cooking and working that was very unique. As for the people I admire, though, obviously Chef Daniel [Boulud] because of his dedication and his palate. Chef Ferran Adrià [was also] groundbreaking. He changed everyone’s perception of food and introduced creativity.