Sushi chefs Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda of defunct sushi den The Hump at the Santa Monica Airport plead guilty yesterday to serving Sei whale, an endangered species. According to CBS, they plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges, "conspiracy and offering to, and selling, a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purchase," and thusly could face up to three years in prison, in addition to fines and community service.
The guilty plea comes four years after the chefs were initially busted and a year after being indicted by a grand jury. As some might recall, producers of dolphin documentary The Cove dined at The Hump after receiving a tip that the restaurant was serving whale meat. They brought a discrete camera, filmed an entire omakase meal, and caught a waitress introducing one dish as whale. Through DNA analysis they were able to prove that the meat was from the endangered and federally-protected Sei whale. The Hump shuttered shortly thereafter.
Since then Yamamoto has gone on to open arguably Los Angeles' best sushi bar, Yamakase, an expensive, exclusive, and excellent invite-only restaurant in West LA. To grain entrance though, one must fill out a form online. The fate of Yamakase is unclear at the moment.
· Sushi Chefs Plead Guilty To Serving Whale Meat [CBS]
· Sushi Chefs Plead Guilty to Serving Whale Meat [-EN-]
· The Hump Caught Serving Endangered, Illegal, Whale [~ELA~]
[Photo: Chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto fillets a halibut at Yamakase/Kat Odell]