Ambra Kitchen + Bar - Executive Chef Dai Matsuda Bio
Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar
Dai Matsuda was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he held two passions – surfing and cooking. Matsuda fell in love with Italian cuisine at a young age and recalls his obsession with learning how to craft the perfect carbonara while applying for his first job at a local Italian joint. He quickly realized he was meant to be a professional chef and at the age of 23 moved to New York City to pursue his dream – this move was the catalyst for an accomplished career, leading to his current role as executive chef at Ambra Kitchen + Bar at MGM Grand.
Matsuda attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, where he earned an Associate of Occupational Studies degree in 2006. While building his skills in class, he took the opportunity to explore and taste the renowned restaurants in the city. “The first meal I tried in New York City is the most memorable moment in my career,” Matsuda recalls. “I had the famous Spaghetti al Pomodoro by Scott Conant and remember feeling shocked at how different the food was in New York City compared to Hawaii.”
Utilizing the city’s deep culinary history as motivation, Matsuda honed his craft alongside acclaimed chefs in New York City over the course of 14 years. He began working at Café Boulud in 2005 under Chef Andrew Carmelini and alongside the Mario Carbone and future mentor Rich Torrisi. The chef team developed a long-lasting relationship and after four years Matsuda joined Carmelini at his Italian-focused restaurant A Voce in Madison Square Park. In 2009, Matsuda landed a position as operating chef at The New French. After six months of hard work and dedication, Matsuda was quickly promoted to principal partner and garnered imperative experience in restaurant operations and management. Matsuda continued to refine his operational skills when he joined the team at Morimoto in New York as a sous chef in 2012, where he learned to create traditional Japanese dishes while also overseeing the kitchen team.
A year later, Matsuda reunited with Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi at Major Food Group. During his time with the renowned hospitality company, he helped open ZZ’s Clam Bar, Dirty French, The Lobster Club and The Polynesian as executive chef, before rising to a partner chef role in 2015. As partner chef, Matsuda worked closely with Torrisi and oversaw three venues, contributed to menu development and managed back-of-house operations.
After six years with Major Food Group, Matsuda moved to Las Vegas to open Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar at MGM Grand. As Ambra’s executive chef, Matsuda hopes to bring approachable, rustic Italian cuisine to the property’s award-winning culinary portfolio. He is most excited to develop a high-level pasta program with flavorful seafood and crudo dishes. Matsuda’s favorite thing about being a chef is the family-like comradery that develops in the kitchen, and in his new role he looks forward to working together with his team to create delicious Italian cuisine.