By Alison Bailin Batz / Photo courtesy of Roka Akor
Chef Ce Bian is the corporate chef for Roka Akor, overseeing the restaurant’s culinary trifecta of sushi, seafood and steak in Scottsdale and five other locations nationwide.
How did you first make your way into the kitchen?
I was born in China and raised in London, where I spent much of my youth working in my family’s restaurant. I attended Wales University to study business and finance, eventually earning two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree, but worked in kitchens to pay for my education throughout. Degrees in hand, I ultimately decided to make cooking my career, surprising many.
Tell us about your culinary background in England.
In 1999, I got my start at Smiths of Smithfield in London, working under celebrity chef John Torode. In 2002, I began working with Colin Clague, a similarly high-profile chef known for Japanese cuisine, and then a who’s who of talent including Nic Watt and Yoshi Muranaka, all in London.
How did you make your way to Arizona?
I always knew I wanted to explore the culinary world in America. In 2008, Roka Akor came calling, offering me the chance to move to Scottsdale to help open the concept. I came here in October and fell in love with Arizona. Don’t we all in October?
What makes Roka Akor special?
The robata grill allows us to cook using authentic Japanese techniques over charcoal, which makes so many of the flavors in our dishes distinctly Roka. In addition, the Kobe beef that we use is particularly special. We are proud to hold four of only 30 U.S. licenses to source Kobe from Japan. The buttery, rich flavor is completely unique to the Japanese Kobe.
What do you recommend ordering?
If your first time, order omakase, which means “to entrust the chef” in Japanese. It’s a tasting menu where we showcase rare ingredients and specialty dishes. I also love the robata scallops and the Japanese waygu selections.
Roka Akor, 7299 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.306.8800; www.rokaakor.com.