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Sushi Chefs Plead Guilty to Serving Whale Meat

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Two LA sushi chefs have pleaded guilty to serving illegal, endangered Sei whale meat. CBS reports that chefs Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda of the now-closed The Hump in Santa Monica have each pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges: "conspiracy and offering to, and selling, a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purchase." They each face up to three years in federal prison, fines totaling in the thousands, plus community service.

The guilty plea comes nearly four years after they were first accused and a year after being indicted by a grand jury. Initially busted in a "sting operation" on a tip from the filmmakers of The Cove, the chefs now admit that in 2007 they ordered 11 pounds of Sei whale meat with the permission of The Hump's owner and manager, spending roughly $15,000 for it, according to the LA Times. The chefs were busted after serving off-menu whale meat on three occasions to undercover confidential informants. The Hump closed in 2010.

· Sushi Chefs Plead Guilty To Serving Whale Meat [CBS]
· Chefs Plead Guilty to Serving Whale Meat at Santa Monica Restaurant [LAT]
· All Crime Coverage on Eater [-E-]