Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon passed away on September 11 after a two-year battle with the brain disease Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). He went public in 2013 with news that he was battling the disease that has symptoms similar to Parkinson's. With his incredible spirit and fight he became involved in fundraising for MSA research. A 2014 gala was a star-studded affair and a musical roster that included Slash, Kip Winger, Alice Cooper, Todd Rundgren, Vince Neil, Matt Sorum, and Lisa Loeb.
Prior to his death, he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, but that did not stop his passion as a restaurateur. Even with the loss of his motor skills, he continued carrying out his vision for a fifth restaurant.
Kerry Simon’s road to stardom began when Donald Trump's then-wife Ivana Trump appointed him the executive chef of the Plaza Hotel's Edwardian Room. He went on to open restaurants in Los Angeles, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Miami, and Las Vegas.
Many knew Simon simply as the “Rock n' Roll Chef,” a name given to him by Rolling Stone and rightfully so. Simon served dishes to rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick, just to name a few.
His skills in the kitchen, good looks and charisma had him appear on season two of the Food Network show Iron Chef America in 2005. He faced off against Iron Chef Cat Cora in a modern American cuisine-themed challenge where he won and earned the title Iron Chef. He also appeared on episodes of Hell's Kitchen in 2010.
We had the honor of meeting Simon on many occasions over the last ten years. No matter how busy his venue was, he always took time to come over to the table and say hello. His black chefs’ attire, long black hair, and dark eyes that could see into your soul will not be forgotten. He was unlike any celebrity chef we have met over our career. A moment that we will always remember was a few years ago, when dining in a portable restaurant hoisted 100 feet in the air became a short-lived experimental trend. Simon was the featured chef and we joined him for this interesting way to dine. Not to be deterred by high wind and cold, we were buckled in and began our journey up into the air. Kerry, like all of us, was adorned in the heaviest coats we could find. On our way up, his face covered with only his eyes showing turned to us and said “Hey man, its beautiful up here tonight!” After reaching our required altitude, dinner was served and all the while the chef, with his wonderful spirit, kept a smile on his face and continued with dinner as we rocked ever so slightly under a cold, windy, starlight night.
The loss of Kerry Simon has deeply affected many worldwide. The world is a little dimmer without this incredible chef, restaurateur, and human being among us. The fight against this heinous disease must continue — to help, please make a donation to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. Mark the donation “MSA/Kerry Simon.”