He loves coming to Spain. That was the first thing he made clear to the press after arriving in Marbella from London. He has been visiting the Costa del Sol for years, but now Robert De Niro has become a local businessman, opening a hotel and restaurant on the Golden Mile with Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Hollywood producer Meir Teper.
He said he loves fine cuisine, too. He has experience in the business and also made it clear he wouldn't tolerate the US president in any of his restaurants. Asked by a journalist, “What would you serve President Trump in your restaurant?” he responded, “I don't care what Donald Trump likes. If he walked into any of my restaurants, I'd get up and leave,” to applause from many of those present.
It was Nobu's fame and people's admiration of his cooking, that made De Niro decide go into business with him, first in restaurants and then with Nobu Hotels. However, he made his debut in the field of gastronomy 30 years ago, with the Tribeca Grill restaurant in New York.
“About ten or fifteen years ago we were in the Hard Rock Café in San Diego and I thought: why am I doing this? And so we opened our own line of restaurants and I started working with Trevor [Horwell] and Nobu. And we have continued to grow ever since,” he explained. He describes Nobu as a magnificent chef. “I love his food and that is also something I took into account,” he added.
At his side, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa thanked him for the compliment and paid his own to another master of cuisine in Marbella, Dani García, praising the way he uses local produce. “It is important to have good products to make the best dishes and to offer the best service. That quality is what I have found in Marbella,” he said.
In accordance with the Nobu tradition, the owners of the brand took part in the sake ceremony with which they inaugurate all their establishments. There were Japanese lanterns, taiko drums and, of course, the traditional Japanese drink. A barrel had been filled with special sake and Nobu, De Niro and Teper, wooden mallets in hand, complied with the ritual and broke the lid. That marked the start of the opening party, with a toast to good luck.
The ritual seems to have paid off so far, because the brand continues to grow. Meier Teper announced that the hotel chain, which already has a presence in Ibiza and London, will be opening a hotel in Barcelona next year, and intends to set up in Madrid and expand into Portugal in the future. “We are more than good friends; we are almost a family, and together we are very strong,” said Teper.
The Nobu family is certainly growing in the town, where the Nobu Hotel Marbella, in the Puente Romano complex, opened its doors at Easter as a luxury establishment for adults. It has 49 rooms and suites and there are plans to increase these to 81 by mid-2019.