AUSTRALIAN GOOD FOOD GUIDE - Home of the Chef Hat Awards
Simon Kerr

Simon Kerr


Auckland, New Zealand


I fell into cooking by chance at the age of 24, I was a little bit rudderless up to that point. I studied at Southland Polytechnic over two years and was given an enormous amount of encouragement and direction from two fantastic tutors. Early in my first year we were making oxtail consommé, after presenting my soup to the tutor he called the class up and said “this soup is as good as you would expect to receive at any top restaurant.’ Since that day I have loved working in kitchens and understand the power of words and encouragement. In my second year I competed in the Southern Lights Salon Culinaire. I won gold and silver medals in both events I entered, one of the prizes was “The French Laundry Cookbook.” That book had a huge impact on me at the time and set the direction I was to take with regard to the type of restaurants I wanted to work in. I worked and staged at numerous two and three hat restaurants, twice washing dishes to get my foot in the door. 

Through a series of odd events I found myself in the NT in my first roll as a Head chef leading the kitchen team at Crowne plaza Alice Springs to a gold plate award for “Best function and event caterers in the NT.”After moving further north to open Mimis restaurant at Cooinda lodge, two of my apprentice chefs had great success at the Darwin world skills cooking competition placing first and second, with one of them going on to win NT apprentice of the year. Mimis was awarded one Hat after its first year.

Have you always wanted to be a chef?

No, I kind of just fell into it at 24.

How would you define your style?

Classical French.

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:

SIT Chef tutors, Marco Pierre White, Shannon Bennett and Thomas Keller.

What do you love about this business?

There’s never a dull moment and the ability to be creative.

An ingredient you can’t live without?

Salt and butter.

Signature dish:

No signature dish as such, however there are a few that have been around for a while that continually evolve.