When I met Chef Simon Restrepo, he talked with me about how he became a chef and developed his own style because he was mentored, and now, In his spare time, he is acting as a mentor himself—to Lydia Shire’s son, Alex.
Simon Restrepo is an unlikely chef. Growing up in Colombia, he left the cooking to his mother. It wasn’t until he came to the United States at the age of 20 that he began to develop an interest in cooking.
Following the lead of his brothers, who were already chefs, Simon sought employment in the food industry. He got his foot in the door first as a dishwasher in the now-closed Boston restaurant BIBA. Within six months, Simon was given the opportunity to assist with cooking. He started off making pizzas, and his culinary talent was quickly recognized by head chef and owner Lydia Shire. Since he had minimal knowledge of cooking, Lydia, whom Simon refers to as his “Boston mother,” took it upon herself to become his mentor. Under her tutelage, Simon quickly advanced through the different positions in the kitchen. He worked in a variety of Lydia’s restaurants at the sous-chef level until he was named executive chef of Scampo.
As executive chef, Simon is essentially in charge of the kitchen in its entirety. He oversees and educates the staff and is also responsible for the quality and consistency of each dish cooked in the kitchen. In addition, he works closely with Lydia to update the menu on a seasonal basis.
Having worked at several successful restaurants has allowed Simon to progress as a chef as well as to learn the business inside and out. He is eager to open his own restaurant, where he hopes to fuse Latin and American cuisine.
From Colombia to the US, from dishwasher to executive chef (and soon-to-be restaurant owner), Simon Restrepo is truly living his American dream.
Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Scampo, part of Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood.
VISIT NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS