A man described as “one of the most talented sushi chefs” in the Cayman Islands died in what appears to have been an accident this week along the northwestern coast of Grand Cayman.
Tian Lun Ma, 39, who lived in West Bay but originally came from Shanghai, China, was found shortly after dawn Tuesday in the water near the Cayman Turtle Centre parking lot.
Patrons of Guy Harvey’s restaurant in downtown George Town might recognize Mr. Ma by his Cayman Islands nickname “Aoki” – which he used when serving his fish dishes to customers.
Restaurant general manager Bruno Deluche said Aoki had been with him for more than three years after joining from another restaurant on Grand Cayman. He said the Shanghai native was a whiz with both the serving knives and at customer service.
“He was a real ‘sushi-ologist,’ he was always trying new recipes,” Mr. Deluche said. “He was known for his lionfish sashimi, wahoo sashimi. He would walk the [prepared dishes] over to people and talk with them about the sushi. He was just a great character.”
The staff at Guy Harvey’s and the downstairs restaurant/bar Crudo were shaken by the announcement of Mr. Ma’s death Tuesday afternoon, made by business co-owner Dennis Hunter, Mr. Deluche said.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was uncertain exactly how the chef ended up in the water, but it appears he went shore fishing Monday night in West Bay and somehow got knocked from the rocky coast and into the sea in rough weather. His fishing tackle was found on shore at the location, which is a walled off parking lot directly across the street from the Cayman Turtle Centre on North West Point Road.
Police detectives said Tuesday that there did not appear to be anything suspicious about Mr. Ma’s death.
Guy Harvey’s restaurant owner and namesake Guy Harvey said Wednesday that the incident was “very sad and unfortunate.”