Kerry Simon's Devastating 2015 Death

Kerry Simon took his first step into the world of cooking because he wanted to buy an electric guitar. Simon grew up in Evanston, IL, according to Chicago Sun Times, in the suburbs of the Windy City. There, his desire to rock out led him to find employment at a Little Caesars. When Simon wasn't working, he'd go through Julia Child's cookbook and make each dish, keeping himself busy by learning to prepare French cuisine. In the end, Simon didn't make it into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, but Rolling Stone eventually dubbed him the Rock 'n' Roll Chef (via the Observer).

As a young adult, Simon attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, as recounted by Chicago Sun Times. Simon eventually started working for high-profile individuals like Ivana Trump and began serving celebrities like David Bowie. His real claim to fame, though, comes from his time spent in Las Vegas, where he helped to modernize comfort food in Sin City, per CNN. His style is exemplified by dishes such as crab cakes with papaya slaw, spam croquettes, twice-baked banana bread with tempura bananas, and "pajama brunches."

Over the years, Simon would open several fine-dining establishments, including Simon Kitchen and Bar. At that restaurant, Chicago Sun Times says he perfected the hamburger that allowed him to win on an episode of "Iron Chef America." His food service empire would ultimately extend across the country and beyond.

Remembered as a legend after passing from multiple system atrophy

In 2013, Simon announced to the world that he had multiple system atrophy (via CNN). This brain disease has Parkinson's-like symptoms. Over the next two years, Simon worked to raise awareness and funds to research and hopefully someday cure that disease, according to MSA Shoe. Unfortunately, Simon died from MSA-related complications in 2015, as reported by Eater Las Vegas. The Kerry Simon Fund still carries on its efforts to help those afflicted with MSA. 

Simon had been friends with the likes of Alice Cooper, Bill Murray, Rick Nielsen, Sammy Hagar, Vince Neil, and several band members belonging to Led Zeppelin, among other famous individuals, per Chicago Sun Times. Those closest to him would remember Simon as "zen" and "very Buddhist" in attitude. This may appear to be at odds with his rocker vibe, but as Simon's business partner Elizabeth Blau explained, "He took comfort food and really elevated it to a level and experience that would be similar to fine dining, but with rock 'n' roll and blue jeans." For Simon, life and food were about enjoyment instead of taking things too seriously.

The Observer described Simon's memorial as a celebration where everyone was intended to have a good time. Cotton candy, cocktails, and health juices were served, as was local Vegas cuisine. Simon continued working until his death, as noted by Eater, and even after he died, his approach to food was and is a comfort to many.