Kerry Simon, once a contestant and victor in Iron Chef America, died Friday morning after a two-year battle with multiple system atrophy (MSA), according to the Las Vegas Sun. He was 60 years old.
Simon’s obituary in the Sun was penned by Robin Leach, the former host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and Simon’s friend of 30-plus years.
“We will always remember Kerry fondly,” Leach writes. “He was a gentle man who will be missed greatly.”
Simon was in a coma for two weeks due to pneumonia and was under hospice care, but until then had continued to work as a chef, planning meals and menus, according to Leach.
Simon appeared on two American iterations of Iron Chef. In 2001, he appeared and lost on Iron Chef USA to Todd English. However, he defeated Cat Cora in season 2 of Iron Chef America on Food Network. The secret ingredient was hamburger; since then, his burgers have been his signature dish.
Simon’s flagship restaurant was Simon Kitchen & Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which he opened in 2003.
The late chef was known as the rock ‘n’ roll chef. Leach recalls Simon preparing an extravagant breakfast feast for Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil and even being flown to England to prepare food for Led Zeppelin.
Simon went on to co-found Simon Hospitality Group, a Las Vegas-based restaurant management company which oversees four restaurants.
“On behalf of everyone at Simon Hospitality Group and all of our restaurants, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Kerry Simon,” Simon’s business partner Cory Harwell said in a statement to EW. “Kerry fought a long and courageous battle, and through it all we’ve admired his passion for life and his amazing desire for greatness in each of our restaurants. There are no words to describe how much we will miss our colleague, our leader, and our friend.
“In his passing we will forever hold onto Kerry’s love for bringing people together through food. Keep Calm and Kerry On!”
On of Simon’s restaurants, Carson Kitchen, paid tribute to him with an Instagram post.
Read more on Simon’s life and career at the Sun.