Star chef Miki Nozawa, who built his fame in top-notch restaurants in Italy and Russia, was beaten to death early Monday in Sylt, northern Germany, by two men who dined at his restaurant without paying their bill, local police and media reports said Wednesday.
Nozawa, 57, whose customers in Russia included Mikhail Gorbachev, was immediately taken to a hospital after the assault but died soon afterward, the reports said.
Local online newspaper Sylter Rundschau said the cause of death had not been determined. The Mainichi Shimbun said he died of a brain hemorrhage.
The Japanese Embassy in Berlin was inquiring with local police and trying to verify the victim’s identity.
The chef, who opened a restaurant named Nozawa in Sylt in April, was attacked early Monday by two men who after dining at the eatery left without paying, according to investigators.
The two men, aged 50 and 36, were detained on suspicion of causing bodily injury resulting in death but were released due to lack of evidence, the police said, adding they are still being questioned on a voluntary basis.
According to the Bild-Zeitung, a popular German tabloid, the men claimed they “didn’t like the dishes” served at the restaurant.
The dispute reportedly started at a popular table-dance nightclub called Z1, where the men ran into Nozawa after they had left the restaurant without paying.
Nozawa, a Tokyo native, was known in Germany as an experienced specialist in Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine.
After working at top-notch restaurants in Italy and Russia, he moved to Sylt, an island in the North Sea known for its tourist resorts.
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