Neighborhood Kitchens

Meet Scampo Chef Simon Restrepo

By Margarita Martinez

July 5, 2012
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Scampo's Executive Chef, Simon Restrepo (Patricia Alvarado/WGBH)

When I met Chef Simon Restrepo, he talked with me about how he became a chef and developed his own style because he was mentored, and now, In his spare time, he is acting as a mentor himself—to Lydia Shire’s son, Alex.



Simon Restrepo is an unlikely chef. Growing up in Colombia, he left the cooking to his mother. It wasn’t until he came to the United States at the age of 20 that he began to develop an interest in cooking. 
Following the lead of his brothers, who were already chefs, Simon sought employment in the food industry. He got his foot in the door first as a dishwasher in the now-closed Boston restaurant BIBA. Within six months, Simon was given the opportunity to assist with cooking. He started off making pizzas, and his culinary talent was quickly recognized by head chef and owner Lydia Shire. Since he had minimal knowledge of cooking, Lydia, whom Simon refers to as his “Boston mother,” took it upon herself to become his mentor. Under her tutelage, Simon quickly advanced through the different positions in the kitchen. He worked in a variety of Lydia’s restaurants at the sous-chef level until he was named executive chef of Scampo.
As executive chef, Simon is essentially in charge of the kitchen in its entirety. He oversees and educates the staff and is also responsible for the quality and consistency of each dish cooked in the kitchen. In addition, he works closely with Lydia to update the menu on a seasonal basis. 
Having worked at several successful restaurants has allowed Simon to progress as a chef as well as to learn the business inside and out.  He is eager to open his own restaurant, where he hopes to fuse Latin and American cuisine.
From Colombia to the US, from dishwasher to executive chef (and soon-to-be restaurant owner), Simon Restrepo is truly living his American dream.   


Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Scampo, part of Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood.


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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44

About the Author
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi


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