15 East, one of New York's most acclaimed sushi restaurants, has been without a lead chef for almost a month now, since sushi master Masato "Masa" Shimizu left the restaurant to move to Bangkok with his family. Today, a rep for the Michelin-starred restaurant shares that Noriyuki Takahashi will take over the helm of the sushi counter. Takahashi, who goes by "Taka" has apparently been in the kitchen for a little while now, overlapping with Masa for a month to help make the transition smooth. <strike>But, it's unclear if he, or one of Masa's disciples, has been running the kitchen in the interim.</strike> [Update: Taka has been in charge of the kitchen since Masa's departure.]
In the world of elite sushi chefs, pedigree is particularly important, and Taka's is what one would expect for a restaurant of 15 East's caliber — he worked as the sous chef at Midtown's well regarded SushiAnn for 20 years and trained at Tsukiji SushiSay in Japan. For the moment, Masa's menu is being served, but Taka will start to introduce some of his own dishes this fall.
For those still mourning Masa's departure, here's a video of him making sushi at 15 East in 2013: