Kerry Simon, a celebrity chef before celebrity chefs were a a dime a dozen, was once hailed by Rolling Stone as the "rock 'n' roll chef." In fact, we believe we reported that he once dated singer Taylor Dayne. But more than appearances, Simon was a visionary on the emerging Miami restaurant scene, best known for his stints at Blue Star at The Raleigh, Starfish, in the space currently known as Barton G. The Restaurant, and Mercury, a then Washington Avenue hot spot. Simon left us in the 90s to develop, open and oversee new restaurants by Jean Georges Vongerichten in Hong Kong, New York, London, Chicago and Las Vegas.
And Vegas is where he settled and still is today, but unfortunately, according to Las Vegas Sun's Robin Leach--yes, that one--Simon is battling a rare, aggressive form of Parkinson's Disease called MSA. Simon, 58, is trading his walker for a wheelchair and says the prognosis is not good. "The doctors just don't know yet where it comes from. They don't have any answers for it so there's no cure," he told Leach. "There is no evidence it is hereditary. The long-term diagnosis is not good."
Simon, who is undergoing treatment at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, also suffers from slurred speech, but the reason he has come forward with this is because on Friday, he will appear with Emeril Lagasse and Sirio Maccioni at the Silver State Awards in Vegas where he will be presented with a Visionary Award. Despite his condition, he still runs his impressive restaurant empire that includes Simon at the Palms, KGB at Harrah's Pork & Beans in Tony Hsieh's Container Park, the Grill at Sapphire and two restaurants in the Hard Rock Hotels in Chicago and the Dominican Republic.
"It's freaking tough keeping that busy," he told Leach. "I'm afraid to stop, though. I'm determined to keep doing it."
We congratulate him on the well deserved award and wish him only the best. Click here for exclusive video interview with Simon and Leach at the Silver State Awards.