Chef Spotlight: David Bouhadana of SUSHI BY BOU in NYC
International Sushi Day is on Monday, 6/18 and it's a great time to feature David Bouhadana of Sushi by Bou. Bouhadana is being recognized as one of the most innovative sushi chefs in New York City today. His story begins in Florida where, at the age of 18, he began waiting tables at Yokohama Sushi, a local spot in his hometown of Boca Raton. It wasn't long before he found himself in the kitchen, and his unbridled passion for sushi was discovered. Bouhadana trained incessantly, working incredibly hard to hone his skill and learn everything he could about the restaurant industry. By the end of the year, he had assumed the position of head chef.
Knowing there was more for him to learn, Bouhadana then spent his early 20s studying and perfecting his craft in Japan. He worked admittedly-exhausting 14-hour days under a rigid Japanese sushi master in a restaurant outside of Osaka, where he also taught himself the language. When he returned to the U.S., his next destination was New York City. Bouhadana landed at some of the best sushi restaurants in Manhattan, such as Morimoto, and designed his own menu at Sushi Uo before moving on to open the highly successful Sushi Dojo in the East Village. There, Bouhadana began developing his own omakase experience, pairing expertly-prepared sushi with a lively atmosphere and aesthetic.
Since then, Bouhadana has made a name for himself by recreating Japan's authentic fast-casual omakase concept with his own signature style in New York. He was named one of the top chefs in the country under 30 by Zagat, and recently won a New York Emmy Award for his web series Shokunin. Above all, Bouhadana's passion and energy make him a force to be reckoned with. By putting everything he has into everything he does, Bouhadana has been able to make his dreams a reality, constantly evolving the omakase experience and finding new ways to surprise his customers. His newest concept, Sushi by Bo?, which has locations inside The Sanctuary Hotel in Midtown, at Jue Lan Club and Limelight Patio in Chelsea and at Jue Lan Club in Southampton this summer, brings everything he's learned together in a vision that is completely his, and which is sure to impress.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing David Bouhadana for our "Chef Spotlight."
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
While I loved watching the original iron chefs on tv as a child, I never had an interest back then in becoming a chef. That all changed at 18, when I got my first job waiting tables at a sushi bar.
Who were some of your career mentors?
My mom keeps me going and is the reason I keep pushing every day. As far as professionals, the first chef I worked for - Gang Mao - changed my life. Then I worked for Morimoto and he was the Legend. And finally, Andy Matsuda from SCI sent me to apprentice in Japan at his restaurant for 3+ years which was the ultimate turning point in my life. It was in Japan I learned to refine my skills and become one with the Japanese culture
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
I live, breathe, and sleep the Japanese art that is sushi. It's the efficiency and perfection that I marvel at every day and night.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
My personal interaction with each patron during their omakase experience is the most distinguishable feature of my work. Behind the counter serving the customer in a restaurant that has only seats at the counter and zero tables means it's basically always a one on one experience and that is what I love. Each slice of fish is made and molded just for you, one at a time.
What is your favorite meal or meals?
Ramen for sure and like most chefs, I can't get enough junk food in my life - cheeseburgers and chicken fingers all day.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
Sushi by Bo? was created to allow diners to get top tier sushi without the huge price tag. We are able to achieve this by offering it as a 30 minute timed experience. After 14 years of making sushi on all levels, I combined all my life voyages, connections and skills to create the perfect omakase as they do Japan: simple, easy, delicious and efficient. Sushi by Bo? is a reflection of my current life which is fast, happy, fun, and definitely full of NYC vibes without sacrificing tradition, recipes and taste.
Sushi by Bou locations are now at The Sanctuary Hotel in Midtown, Jue Lan Club and Limelight Patio in Chelsea and in Southampton for the summer. For more information, visit https://www.sushibybou.com/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sushi by Bou