SBF is a convicted fraudster but is he also SushiSwap’s infamous Chef Nomi?

Seasoned crypto users will recognize SushiSwap as one of the earliest DEXs. Indeed, many of the earliest forks of Uniswap used food-based naming schemes, including HoneySwap, BakerySwap, MojitoSwap, BurgerSwap, CandySwap, KibbleSwap, MilkySwap, IceCreamSwap, WinerySwap, OreoSwap, and ChickenSwap.

Unsurprisingly, few of these food-themed exchanges continue operating with any meaningful volume today. But Chef Nomi’s SushiSwap and Binance’s PancakeSwap are still up and running.

Although not quite as prominent as it once was, most people operating in crypto today will know about SushiSwap. After all, it was one of the largest forks of Uniswap. And while Hayden Adams, who long reigned as the most successful DEX founder at Uniswap, attracted criticism for his decentralization theatrics and loyalty to venture capitalists, SushiSwap attracted followers who wanted something better.

When Uniswap ignored the outcome of a governance vote by its own token holders, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Chef Nomi, the aptly named leader of SushiSwap, started broadcasting on social media. He (most people assumed the pseudonymous leader was male) boasted about how SUSHI token holders would always be prioritized, unlike Uniswap’s sporadic disregard of UNI.

Then Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) began tweeting about SushiSwap. The powerful billionaire’s tweets became more frequent, and his support became undeniable. Indeed, SBF tweeted about the project at least 150 times.

During the summer of 2020, Chef Nomi personally dumped $13 million in SUSHI or its ETH backing. Initially, he denied it but eventually admitted to the rug pull after SUSHI’s price catastrophically collapsed from above $8 to pennies.

Most of SBF’s tweets were created in late 2020 as SUSHI was collapsing. He applauded the community rebuilding after Chef Nomi’s rug pull and claimed that SushiSwap was giving participants superior payouts. He also praised SUSHI’s price recovery and even into July 2021, brazenly broadcast that the SUSHI token was undervalued.

Consequently, many people viewed SBF as the white knight who could save the beleaguered exchange, and that dream became a reality when Chef Nomi admitted to granting control of the exchange to SBF.

Read more: Takeovers, trading, and tokens: SBF’s crypto empire unraveled

Chef Nomi tried to explain the situation in a Twitter thread. In the thread, he seemed annoyed that people thought he conducted an exit scam or didn’t deserve the ETH. He said he moved any remaining “devshares” — a euphemism for assets that he once believed were rightfully his — to a multisig wallet.

However, some people wondered if Chef Nomi was actually SBF all along.

A federal jury found SBF guilty — but was he Chef Nomi?

Chef Nomi apologized for the chaos caused by his SushiSwap liquidations. He eventually repented, giving back $14 million in ETH to SushiSwap’s treasury and proving it with a transaction hash. A few weeks later, he disappeared from Twitter forever.

Since his departure, many people have speculated about Chef Nomi’s identity. Around the time that FTX and Alameda Research began to crater, Up Only podcaster Cobie mentioned that Nomi had a writing style similar to SBF. For months, Cobie pinned a tweet to the top of his Twitter profile speculating that SBF was Chef Nomi.

Cobie thought it noteworthy that Chef Nomi went out of his way to thank SBF for helping to bail SushiSwap out. When Chef Nomi ultimately transferred control of SushiSwap to SBF, Cobie took a victory lap of sorts.

In the years before the FTX meltdown, SBF had been positioning himself as the poster boy of the digital asset industry. He talked endlessly about ‘effective altruism’ and efforts to bail out struggling digital asset companies. Could he have engineered the SushiSwap near-disaster to look like a hero? Or, as some speculated, was he just looking for additional liquidity for Solana and saw a convenient DEX in SushiSwap?

SBF, of course, might have had something to say about that. He’d previously posted harsh words about Chef Nomi, saying that SushiSwap clearly had no future for as long as Chef Nomi controlled it.

Read more: Crypto traders unleash dangerous AI trading bots on DEXs

In the end, the Chef Nomi rug pull-and-refund incident became one of the most famous true tales of crypto. Some people even use ‘Chef Nomi’ as a verb to describe misbehavior at obvious clones of other protocols whose founders intend to rug pull.

What has happened with SushiSwap since then?

Today, the SUSHI token trades around $1.25, considerably down from its all-time high of $23.38. The original SushiSwap on Ethereum still gets a seven-figure daily trading volume, though CoinMarketCap warns that its code contains a vulnerability in its RouteProcessor2 contract and users should revoke all approvals. As of April 2023, current SushiSwap ‘head chef’ Jared Grey said developers were working on fixing that problem.

SushiSwap also launched a perpetual futures exchange in February 2024 and hosted some side events at the latest Ethereum Denver event. In addition, it added ZetaChain to the list of blockchains that host the decentralized exchange. It also managed to reboot its staking rewards, which it refers to as the ‘Sushi Bar,’ as well as the Sushi Academy.

Chef Nomi apparently vanished after causing a fiasco by selling his SUSH holdings. Of course, there was speculation over who this pseudonymous founder of SushiSwap could have been. Maybe it was a cover identity for SBF; maybe it wasn’t.

To this day, the identity of Chef Nomi remains an unsolved mystery.

His project, SushiSwap, lives on as a mid-tier exchange that can still, indeed, facilitate the exchange of tokens across several blockchains.

However, its once-white knight and now-criminal savior SBF — to whom Chef Nomi granted control of SushiSwap in late 2020 — will be heading to prison soon for unrelated crimes. With substantially all of SBF’s trial appearances complete, the world might never know whether he was Chef Nomi after all.

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