Justin Simoneaux’s cooking is influenced by the Cajun and Creole dishes of New Orleans and coastal Louisiana. As Executive Chef of Boxing Room, he couples traditional techniques and recipes with seasonal Northern California ingredients for lunch, dinner, and brunch menus.
A Southern Louisiana native, Simoneaux’s affinity for coastal Louisiana cuisine originated from years of hunting and fishing and enjoying frequent family gatherings around seafood boils, fish fries, barbecues, pig roasts, and simple pots of gumbo. He recalls a precocious appreciation for good food as a child, and spent many moments in the home kitchen absorbing recipes from his mother and grandmother. Simoneaux began cooking in a New Orleans seafood restaurant at age 15 and worked his way up to line cook and then kitchen manager by age 18. Realizing he needed to gain further experience and training, he moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in 2005.
While attending the CCA, he worked under the direction of Chef Robert Cubberly at the now-closed Le Petit Robert in San Francisco and was promoted to the position of sous-chef after only one year. Simoneaux says Chef Cubberly set his foundation for cooking and was a great mentor in his culinary progression. In 2007, Simoneaux joined Coco500 as sous-chef, working with Chef Loretta Keller, where he remained one year before she hired him to open The Moss Room at the California Academy of Sciences in 2008 as her chef-de-cuisine. While he was there, the restaurant received three stars from Michael Bauer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and was featured in the publication’s “Top 100 Restaurants” list in 2009. He was also named a San Francisco Chronicle 2009 “Rising Star Chef.”
At Boxing Room, the menu includes many of Simoneaux’s personal favorites, such as Cajun Boiled Peanuts; Deep-Fried Alligator with Creole Rémoulade; Smoked Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo; Louisiana Shrimp Po’ boy; and New Orleans-Style Stuffed Artichoke. Since opening in June 2011, Boxing Room has garnered rave reviews including three stars from San Francisco magazine, and Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “Simoneaux knows his way around a fryer…but it's far from a greasy spoon because the kitchen takes a light, fresh approach.” Boxing Room was also named one of San Francisco’s “2012 Best New Restaurants” by 7x7 magazine.
Simoneaux lives in San Francisco.