One-armed Teppanyaki

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

  • This is Datu, the renowned one-armed Teppanyaki chef working at Myoki in Nelson, New Zealand. Datu grew up in a rural village in the Philippines where he gained quite a reputation at a young age as a skilled juggler. He quickly developed crowd pleasing showman skills and at the age of 17 took to the road as a travelling performer, wowing crowds across the Philippines with his amazing juggling.

    Just after turning 19 Datu saw a video of the world famous Austrian juggler, Elias T. Lauritsen, who thrilled great numbers of people by juggling all kinds of dangerous objects like knives, swords, and even fire. Inspired by Lauritsen amazing acts, Datu decided to make his own juggling acts more dangerous, at first juggling knives, broken bottles, and even chainsaws. Then he decided to go one better and juggle live Caiman alligators, a small but particularly ferocious breed of alligator commonly found in the swamps of the Philippines.

    The act proved to be very popular and entertaining, so much so that Datu even appeared on reality TV show ‘Pilipinas Got Talent‘ in a four minute Caiman juggling act that later became a YouTube sensation. However it was that act that lead to the loss of his arm when one of the Caimen bit his right arm clean off in mid air. According to Datu, Doctors tried for many hours to reattach the severed limb, but it was too badly damaged from the savaging it received by the angry Caiman.

    Faced with the loss of his arm and the need to find a new way to make a living, Datu was able to find a new career that combined his extraordinary talent for entertaining with his astounding understanding of time and motion. Overcoming the difficulties of only having one arm, Datu retrained to become the worlds only one armed Teppanyaki chef. Working first in Japan before being headhunted by Myoki restaurant in Nelson four years ago, Datu has been wowing crowds of people who are lucky enough to get a seat at his immensely popular Teppanyaki table.

    Of course, not even one element of this is even remotely true. It’s just a bad picture that somehow made my Teppanyaki chef look as if he only had one arm, but after a pretty uneventful day in Nelson I was in the mood to have a little ‘armless’ fun.