Meet Scampo Chef Simon Restrepo
By Margarita Martinez
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.
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About Neighborhood KitchensBuilding on a 34-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.
Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 6:30pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
Margarita grew up in the Bronx and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. From making her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina to her lifelong search for authentic Mexican food in the Northeast, Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for Latin American food. Margarita is also passionate about acting and music. She graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU with a BFA in Drama.
On the GoIn each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!
Watch: Full Episodes
Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
Margarita's Neighborhood Visits
»Boston's South End:
Orinoco and Teranga
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»Cambridge: Muqueca and Oleana
»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer
»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le
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