Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon Dies at 60
The 'Iron Chef America' winner and Las Vegas restaurant mainstay who made his name in Manhattan's fine-dining scene (La Cote Basque, Lutece) succumbed to a degenerative neurological disorder.
Kerry Simon, once dubbed the "rock 'n' roll chef" by no less than Rolling Stone for his brash personality and creative New American culinary innovations (his trademark dessert was a refined spin on a junk food spread), died on Friday morning in Las Vegas after a two-year battle with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a degenerative neurological disorder. He was 60.
Longtime friend Robin Leach, the one-time Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous host and current Las Vegas Sun columnist, announced his death, noting that Simon's business partner Elizabeth Blau, at Simon's request, corralled two Tibetan monks to his hospice to offer bedside prayers as he passed away.
The long-haired, sociable kitchen star became known for his famous friends — Bill Murray, Cheap Trick, George Maloof — as much as for his serious skill set, honed at classic Manhattan fine dining sanctums like La Cote Basque and Lutece, which eventually helped him net a win on Iron Chef America. His breakout moment in New York came when Ivana Trump tapped him to helm the Edwardian Room at the Plaza Hotel in 1989, shortly after her then-husband had taken control of the property.
In recent years, he's concentrated on several Las Vegas restaurants (at Harrah's and Palms Place), which he recently closed as his health deteriorated. He previously had a short-lived L.A. run with an eponymous lobby-level restaurant at the Hotel Sofitel on the edge of West Hollywood. Simon also was a veteran of the touring circuit, cooking for the likes of Led Zeppelin.