The New Zealand–born chef prefers to live way (down) under the radar, but in opening Kiwiana, his Park Slope restaurant inspired by his grandmother’s dining room, he’s not as shy as it would appear. Grub asked Simmons why we never see him on any of the Top Chef spinoffs. Camera shy? “I think my fifteen minutes of fame are done and over; I was on the show in 2008, you have to move on … and Top Chef Masters is for, like, 60-year-olds, isn’t it?” But have you officially retired from TV? “I’d love to be on Iron Chef, but that’s about it.” Hardly ungrateful, Simmons attributes a lot of Kiwiani’s early success to a combination of the the show’s nonstop momentum, “a bunch of Kiwi expats,” and “loyal Park Slope customers who followed me from Fresh Table and Melt.” One guy he’s not thanking? The line cook who “decided to go on a permanent vacation, or maybe I should say bender, a day before we opened.” Ah, the biz.
He’s a non-media-whore who loves Marmite. Photo: Courtesy of Mark Simmons