Simon Shand

Simon Shand

Having arrived at Wild Honey as a chef de partie, Simon left three years later as senior sous and, after then working at Frenchie for year, decided to take a short break from working in restaurants (‘I think all the long hours and intense shifts had slightly taken their toll’). For a few months, he split his time between working in a North London café and cooking across Europe, but soon another job in a restaurant came begging, this time at The Corner Room in Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel. Simon joined as sous chef of the small-plates restaurant but after just six months was made head chef for the first time in career, which turned out to be a pivotal moment for him.

‘I think making that step up was exactly what I needed at that moment,’ explains Simon, ‘I’d started to get to the point where I was getting a bit tired of the industry, and wasn’t getting loads out of it any more. But I fell in love with it all again when I got offered the head chef position. I already felt confident in my ability by that point but I honestly think I learnt more in that first year as head chef than I had done in the rest of my career. I was given such a free rein to do what I wanted, so I started reading loads and trying out new ideas. At one point I was changing the menu every day, just to try new dishes. It was mayhem but that was how I found my style.’

In 2021, after four years at The Corner Room, Simon left to become head chef of acclaimed Shoreditch restaurant and wine bar Leroy. There, he’d be able to continue offering a similar style of menu to that of the Corner Room, but there was the small added pressure of a Michelin star hanging next to Leroy’s door, ‘funnily enough I didn’t actually know it had a star at first,’ smiles Simon, ‘and when I found out, I felt pretty nervous about it. No-one wants to lose a Michelin star after all. But having that status does mean you can push the boat out a bit more with the food and buy slightly more expensive ingredients.’ Simon put his own stamp on the menu at Leroy, serving seasonal classical-leaning small plates and, after less than a year at the helm, retained the Michelin star, cementing him as a chef of immense quality.

Simon may not be reinventing the wheel with his food but nor is he claiming to be. This young chef’s cookery is all about putting flavour first ahead of complexity. You won’t find gels, mists or foams on any of his menus, but you will be guaranteed food that tastes fantastic and has been beautifully executed, and that’s why Simon’s cookery continues to delight guests day in and day out.