Chef Jared Simons

In high school, San Diego native Jared Simons may have chosen another career path if an injury hadn’t sidelined him from the chance at a college wrestling scholarship. The unexpected detour opened the door for him to discover his true love: cooking. In fact, it was his high school wrestling coach who recommended Simons for his first hospitality position, as a busboy at a local restaurant. When the ever-rebellious Simons dyed his hair shock-red, the restaurant owner suggested he dye his hair back to keep his front-of-house position, or switch to work in the kitchen. Simons chose the latter. “I thought it might be interesting to work in the back of the house,” he recalls. “Even though I started out mostly doing dishes, I was always watching the cooks to see how they were doing things. Then I’d jump in and help with the cooking. It pretty much changed the direction of my life.”

Simons went on to enroll in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and subsequently apprenticed at San Diego’s esteemed Milles Fleurs, under the tutelage of Chef Martin Woesle. At just 22, Simons launched his first restaurant concept in Carlsbad, CA, a French-style bistro called Le Passage. His initial business partner in the venture later sold his share to restaurateur Anthony Gangale, whom Simons credits as his mentor in all aspects of the business. “I was fortunate enough to learn from Tony’s past experience,” he says, “And we still talk almost every day.”

Looking to establish his brand of cuisine in a new city, Simons made the move to Los Angeles after seeing a classified ad for a restaurant space in West L.A. He opened his casual small-plates eatery, named Violet, on an up-and-coming stretch of Pico Boulevard, and quickly became a prominent figure in the Los Angeles dining scene, earning awards and recognition from Angeleno magazine, Food & Wine, the Los Angeles Times, and Restaurant Hospitality.

The media attention, however, did not leave the chef complacent. In 2008, Simons signed on to create the menu for Hollywood’s premiere ultra-lounge, Bardot. The nightclub experience afforded him the opportunity to bring to life his concept of “promiscuous dining” — a focus on engaging diners through shareable small plates, as opposed to “marrying” them to the flavors of a single entrée and encouraging a social dining experience. Following his time at Bardot, Simons collaborated with restaurateur Steven Arroyo at popular tapas destination Cobras & Matadors, and its sister sandwich spot, Potato Chips.

In March 2012, Simons joined the team at Lexington Social House in Hollywood, bringing his distinct dining philosophy to the unique supper club venue. “I’m concentrating on offering a straightforward, seasonal menu with dishes that people love and recognize, yet with a contemporary and sexy spin that complements the vibe here at Lexington,” Simons says.

On days when he’s not donning his mechanic’s apron and combat boots, which he prefers over traditional chef whites, Simons jumps on his vintage Triumph motorcycle and heads up the coast line.