Overall ranking: 83
Chef ranking: 14
Mark Edwards is the head chef of Michelin-starred Nobu London, the first restaurant to be opened outside the USA by the celebrated Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. Edwards additionally has overall responsibility for Ubon by Nobu in London's Canary Wharf and has played a key role in setting up the kitchens and training staff at all new Nobus that have opened since 1997.
Edwards, who was born in 1965, started his career at the age of 13 with a part-time job at a small seafood restaurant in Kent. After gaining a catering diploma in 1980, he worked at London's Café Royal before heading to Europe in 1982 to gain experience at Le Richmond hotel in Geneva and the George V hotel in Paris.
From 1987 Edwards worked at top Manhattan restaurants in the USA, where he developed his passion for Asian cuisine. He developed these skills at the Mandarin Orchard hotel in Singapore and the Peninsula hotel in Hong Kong from 1992 before returning to the UK as senior sous chef of Vong, the former Thai/French restaurant in London's Berkeley hotel.
Teaming up with Matsuhisa, Edwards trained in California before opening Nobu London as a concession in the Metropolitan hotel on London's Park Lane in February 1997. Ubon by Nobu opened in November 2000.
What we think
Nobu is regarded as one of the world's most fashionable restaurant brands and Edwards's interpretation of Matsuhisa's modern Japanese fusion cuisine, a blend of Japanese, South American and Californian influences, has secured a Michelin star for Nobu London (in 1998) and three AA rosettes for Ubon by Nobu. For the past two years, Nobu has displaced the Ivy as the most-loved London restaurant amongst Zagat readers.
Edwards's cuisine is more than mere mimicry of his mentor's style. Nobus are adapted to local tastes and their head chefs have considerable freedom to create their own tasting menus. "Nobu and I have a very open and trusting relationship, and similar ideas and tastes," Edwards told Caterer in 2001. "He trusts me to make my own developments, but we have regular tastings and discussions about how we can evolve dishes. It's not his kitchen or my kitchen, it is our kitchen."
As Matsuhisa's culinary right hand man, Edwards's influence stretches far beyond the UK capital. He has been responsible for overseeing the start-up and overall standards of all Nobus opened since 1997. Nobu London was Matsuhisa's third restaurant in the current portfolio and followed the creation of an eponymous restaurant in Los Angeles in 1987 and the first Nobu, in New York, in 1994 in partnership with actor Robert de Niro and restaurateur Drew Neiporent. Ten more restaurants have since been added to the line-up.
In 2001, the Nobu empire (excluding the Greek venue) was turning over in excess of £80m a year, while sales at Nobu London alone were topping £12m.
Edwards has also worked with British Airways to adapt the Nobu menu for its first class and Club passengers on flights to Japan.