Born in Korea and raised in Aspen, Colorado, Chef Akira Back brings a sense of adventure and boundless creativity to his culinary creations. From extreme sports athlete to award-winning chef, Akira Back’s journey to culinary success has been anything but dull. For over 24 years, Chef Back has enticed the culinary world with his bold interpretations of Asian fare with American influence. Using only the high-quality ingredients and creating a culture of world-class service in a welcoming environment, Chef Back’s restaurants embody classic cuisine continuously featuring innovative dishes that use the finest ingredients from the world’s top purveyors.
His portfolio of restaurants includes Kumi Japanese Restaurant +Bar by Akira Back at Mandalay Bay and the famed Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge by Akira Back at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, both part of the prestigious Hakkasan Group portfolio where he is Executive Chef and Partner.
Additionally, Chef Akira Back opened his namesake brand, Akira Back Restaurants in New Delhi, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok with additional locations opening in Hanoi, Toronto and Dubai, as well as DOSA in Seoul Korea, which opened in May 2016. His newest concepts include AB Steak in Jakarta and ABar in Bangkok which opened in 2017.
The 2018 Michelin Guide Seoul awarded Chef Akira Back’s innovative restaurant concept DOSA in Seoul, South Korea with one Michelin star. “To be recognized and awarded one Michelin Star is an amazing honor for me,” said Chef Akira Back. “And to be given such a prestigious honor in my hometown is truly an incredible achievement. Korean cuisine has constantly been my inspiration as I open restaurants around the world, so to receive this award here is very special.”
Before taking his turn in the kitchen, Chef Back spent his early years as a professional snowboarder in Colorado, appearing in extreme movies and garnering praise from the sport’s top trade publications. During this time, Back began working at local restaurants to supplement his income as an extreme sports athlete. After seven years on the pro-snowboarding circuit, Back realized that he felt the same thrill in the kitchen as he did on his board, shaping his decision to pursue a full-time culinary career.
Chef Back went on to study at the International Culinary School at The Art Institute in Colorado. In 1993, he began working at Kenichi in Aspen as Sushi Prep Cook and was later recruited to Kenichi in Austin, Texas and then in Kona, Hawaii, where he worked as the Opening Chef. Combining his passions for adventure, travel and culinary exploration, Chef Back toured extensively throughout Japan and Europe, studying under top celebrity chefs and industry leaders, including Masaharu Morimoto and Brian Nagao. It was during this period that Chef Back learned the value of using rare and exotic ingredients. In 2003, Chef Back returned to Aspen to lead the kitchen as Executive Chef of Nobu Matsuhisa’s namesake restaurant.
Combining his passions for adventure, travel and culinary exploration, Chef Back toured extensively throughout Japan and Europe, studying under top celebrity chefs and industry leaders, including Masaharu Morimoto and Brian Nagao. It was during this period that Chef Back learned the value of using rare and exotic ingredients. In 2003, Chef Back returned to Aspen to lead the kitchen as Executive Chef of Nobu Matsuhisa’s namesake restaurant.
Constantly striving to create the best and most unique dining experiences around the world, Back has a number of new restaurant concepts on the horizon. AB Steak opened to significant fanfare in April 2017. The Korean barbeque meets Western influences steakhouse in Jakarta features culturally-innovative cuisine and top-quality service in a comfortable and stylish setting. The newly opened A Bar in Bangkok features a luxurious and modern design paired with creative cocktails, savory small bites, and shared plates. The artistic cocktail program presents unique libations with a contemporary approach to the classics and cutting edge masterpieces.
Throughout his illustrious career, Chef Akira Back has been awarded the title of “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality (2008) and has had the distinct honor of hosting the prestigious James Beard House dinners (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, 2013 & 2014). Since opening Yellowtail Restaurant & Lounge in 2008, Chef Back has been named “Best Chef in Las Vegas” by Las Vegas Weekly. Chef Back has also participated in some of the culinary world’s most prestigious events, including Aspen Food & Wine Festival, Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival and Bon Appetit’s Vegas Uncorked amongst others.
In addition to these top accolades, Chef Akira Back has had extensive broadcast experience, appearing on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” where he battled Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Chef Back can also be seen on NBC’s “The Today Show,” Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” The Cooking Channel’s “United Tastes of America,” as well as KBS’ “Success Mentor” which airs in Korea.