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Ricky Estrellado, The Filipino Executive Chef Of Nobu New York, Will Be Missed

Ricky Estrellado, the Executive Chef of the world-renowned restaurant Nobu in New York City, has passed away at the age of 48. He had just returned from the Jackson Hole Food & Wine Festival in Wyoming, when news of his passing broke out. While he has left this world too soon, Chef Ricky definitely made his mark on the global culinary scene, mentoring and inspiring chefs, many of whom are Filipino, throughout his career.


Chef Ricky at the Jackson Hole Food & Wine Festival


Doing what he loves best


While Chef Ricky has made New York his home since the 1990s, he grew up in the Philippines where he loved to cook for himself and his friends. This passion eventually led him to take jobs in the kitchen. He even once worked at Goodah! for fifty pesos a day! After realizing that cooking professionally was what he wanted to do, he then enrolled at the New York Restaurant School in Manhattan, graduating in 1994 at the top of his class.


With Chefs Eric Ripert and Nobu Matsuhisa


Soon after, he joined the Nobu restaurant group, working as the sous chef in Nobu Los Angeles, and the chef de cuisine in Nobu Las Vegas, before being promoted to Executive Chef of Nobu New York.

Despite having lived in the United States for so long, Chef Ricky still considered Manila as his home and loved visiting the Philippines. In 2002, along with other young Filipino chefs from Nobu, he helped establish Kai Neo-Japanese in Greenbelt. In 2016, Chef Ricky came back to do a collaboration dinner with Chef Michael de Jesus at Nobu Manila, where both chefs incorporated many Filipino elements into the omakase menu. And Chef Ricky has done the same at Nobu New York, working with ingredients like green mangoes, calamansi, and bagoong, to name a few.

The multi-awarded Nobu taught him everything he knew about the restaurant and food industry. Having worked closely with Nobu’s founder, the celebrated Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, for more than two decades, Chef Ricky stated that one of his learnings was that the customer always comes first. No matter how strange or unreasonable the customer’s requests may be, the chefs would still have to go out of their way to give them the best service.

Nobu New York’s Instagram account shared the following: “His creativity, leadership and kindness made him an invaluable part of the Nobu family since we first opened our doors in Tribeca in 1994.”


Chef Ricky with Nobu Matsuhisa


Colleagues and friends remember him as a warm, engaging, friendly presence who will definitely be missed. He is survived by his wife, Pam and daughter, Pia.


Photos from @nobunewyork