New Year Brings New Chef for Downtown’s Carson Kitchen

If you’re heading downtown to enjoy a meal at Carson Kitchen this new year, you may notice a few changes. Although the urban-neighborhood-style decor remains, the award-winning comfort food restaurant now has a new executive chef and a new wintertime menu.

Chef Scott Simon — the younger brother of the late “Rock ’n’ Roll” chef Kerry Simon — has returned to Las Vegas after working for four years in his hometown of Chicago. Having previously gained culinary experience at his brother’s various restaurant ventures, the younger Simon moved to the Windy City to open Chuck’s: A Kerry Simon Kitchen in 2013.

“Chef Simon was mentored by Kerry throughout the beginning of his culinary career, and for many years the duo worked side by side,” said Cory Harwell, president of Simon Hospitality Group, an on-site restaurant management company based in Las Vegas.

“His expertise and exceptional talent reflect that, and we are very excited to welcome him back to Las Vegas and have him a part of the team at Carson Kitchen.” 

The chic yet casual Carson Kitchen, which is located at South Sixth Street and East Carson Avenue, is the creation of Kerry Simon and restaurateur Cory Harwell. It opened in June 2014 inside the repurposed midcentury John E. Carson Hotel and received local media accolades shortly thereafter.

Simon left home at 18 years old to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. To aid him in his pursuit, Simon’s brother — already ensconced in the culinary world — mentored him. The elder Simon taught his sibling everything from the basics, such as knife skills, to more advanced knowledge like time management and dealing with the high pressure of the restaurant business.

Simon began his journey to chefdom at Blue Star restaurant, which was located inside the luxurious, iconic The Raleigh Miami Beach hotel. Kerry Simon was part owner and the executive chef of the restaurant.

While continuing to work at a number of his brother’s restaurants and receiving his guidance all along the way, Simon honed his culinary talents in South Beach. Later moving to Arizona, he then worked as a sous chef for a large fitness facility for five years.

In 2002, the budding chef made his way to Vegas, where he worked at Kerry Simon’s latest undertakings — the recently opened Simon Kitchen + Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, then later CatHouse (December 2007) at Luxor and Simon Restaurant & Lounge (May 2008) at Palms Place.

Since 2013, chef Scott Simon also has consulted on other national and international projects, such as Simon Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs, California, and Simon Mansion in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Today, with 26-plus years of culinary experience and many years spent working alongside his brother, Simon is ready to embrace his new role at Carson Kitchen.

“Kerry and I shared a passion of food and cooking, and I am excited to carry on his legacy at one of his last restaurant ventures here in Las Vegas — Carson Kitchen,” said the chef.

“Since the opening, Carson Kitchen has continued to keep Kerry’s spirit alive, and I am beyond honored to serve as the executive chef, and bring a new energy and enthusiasm to the restaurant.”

Chef Simon’s chicken thighs served on a bed of pumpkin purée and sherry jus is now available at Carson Kitchen.

Chef Simon’s chicken thighs served on a bed of pumpkin purée and sherry jus is now available at Carson Kitchen.

With his all-new winter menu, diners can indulge in such comfort food-inspired dishes as black mussels with toast that can be dipped in a white wine, shallot and ’nduja broth; young beets salad tossed with pistachios, red and green grapes, and goat cheese; chicken thighs served on a bed of pumpkin purée and sherry jus; and red snapper in a panang curry topped with crispy rice noodles, to name just a few.

Of course, you’ll want to finish your meal just right, so give the banoffee pie a try. It’s served in a mason jar, and topped with Bailey’s whipped cream and a homemade chocolate biscotti.

Carson Kitchen is open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m Thursday through Saturday.

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