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#FGRFamily Spotlight | Simon Young

March 5, 2020

#FGRFamily Spotlight | Simon Young

How did you get into the restaurant industry? 

Initially I needed a job when I was younger, and my dad knew an executive chef of a hotel restaurant. I went in while I was still in school and loved it. I got my first sous chef role after 10 years in the industry. From there it took another four years to get into an executive chef role. 

What’s your favorite part about being in the Fifth Group family? 

The network of chefs and people that are in the industry for the same reasons as me. Learning so many new things each day and being challenged differently than you would at other restaurant groups. 

What’s your favorite dish at this restaurant? 

At this point in time, my favorite dish would probably be the lamb dish.  (A honey-glazed lamb rack with confit shoulder, sunchoke puree & chard fennel goat salad.)

Where did you grow up? 

Christchurch, New Zealand. I lived most of my life there and spent some time in Australia. I moved to the U.S. a little over eight years ago. I moved here because of the earthquakes in New Zealand. The entire township was destroyed and being rebuilt. It’s actually the nine year earthquake anniversary today.

What were your favorite meals as a child? 

Meat pies in my teenage years. Food at home was very much fend for yourself. My mom worked graveyard shift, so she’d be going to work when we were coming home from school. I miss comfort food meat pies though. 

What’s a fun fact about you? 

I competed in my first Iron Man last year. That was in Chattanooga in October of last year. I finished and felt great the entire day. It was a great success in 100+ degree temperature.

What part of town do you live in? 

Norcross. I just bought a house there. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Atlanta when you’re not working?

Concerts or being outdoors. Plus training for an Iron Man. I’m going to do two more halfs and a full this year.

What’s your food-related guilty pleasure? 

I have a sweet tooth. Anything sweet is my guilty pleasure, especially ice cream. New Zealand ice cream is very different though, and I miss it.

What’s your favorite travel destination? 

I have a soft heart for Australia. I went to Mexico last year, and that was fun. But I’d have to go with Australia. Melbourne is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s unique, because it feels like a small city, but it’s really big. 

What’s your favorite band or musician? 

I don’t have one favorite. I listen to all kinds of genres. The last three concerts I went to were The Eagles, Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews Band. With the hospitality industry being so diverse, different influences come along your whole life. 

Favorite celebrity chef? 

Not currently, but I spent some time with Gordon Ramsey. At the beginning of his career, he would find young talent to train with him in London. It was a trial to become one of his sous chefs, and I was chosen. This was in 2000. It was cool!

What are three adjectives that best describe you? 

Calm, passionate, a good leader

Who inspires you most in your career? 

I’ve had several chefs throughout my career that I’ve looked up to and who have steered me in the right direction. A lot of inspiration came from chefs I used to work for back in New Zealand, where I learned work ethic and food knowledge. Now, it’s the people around me that drive me. My team and the line cooks — seeing their joy. And the service staff — getting to see them taste the food and they get what we’re trying to put on the plate. Then they go to a table and are able to describe the inspiration behind the dishes. 

If you could invite one person living or dead to any Fifth Group Restaurant, who would it be, where would you take them and why? 

My dad. I would bring him here (South City Kitchen Buckhead) or one of the Eccos, because he loved that type of European feel. If he came here, I’d want him to see what I’ve been able to do and what I’ve been able to achieve.