Justin Simoneaux’s cooking is influenced by the Cajun and Creole dishes of New Orleans and coastal Louisiana. He plans to couple traditional techniques and recipes with seasonal Northern California ingredients, for the fare he will offer at Boxing Room as Executive Chef.
A Southern Louisiana native, Simoneaux’s affinity for coastal Louisiana cuisine originated from years of hunting and fishing and enjoying frequent family gatherings around seafood boils, fish fries, barbecues, pig roasts, and simple pots of gumbo. He recalls a precocious appreciation for good food as a child, and spent many moments in the home kitchen absorbing recipes from his mother and grandmother. Simoneaux began cooking in a New Orleans seafood restaurant at age 15 and worked his way up to line cook and then kitchen manager by age 18. Realizing he needed to gain further experience and training, he moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in 2005.
While attending the CCA, he worked under the direction of Chef Robert Cubberly at the now-closed Le Petit Robert in San Francisco and was promoted to the position of sous-chef after only one year. Simoneaux says Chef Cubberly set his foundation for cooking and was a great mentor in his culinary progression. In 2007, Simoneaux joined Coco500 as sous-chef, working with Chef Loretta Keller, where he remained one year before she hired him to open The Moss Room at the California Academy of Sciences in 2008 as her chef-de-cuisine. While he was there, the restaurant received three stars from Michael Bauer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and was featured in the publication’s “Top 100 Restaurants” list in 2009. He was also named a San Francisco Chronicle 2009 “Rising Star Chef.”
At Boxing Room, the menu includes many of Simoneaux’s personal favorites, such as Cajun Boiled Peanuts; Louisiana Seafood Gumbo with brown rice and house-made tasso; and Deep Fried Alligator.
Simoneaux lives in San Francisco.
Boxing Room opened in June 2011 in the former 19th-century Standard Shirts Factory, located in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. Executive Chef Justin Simoneaux, a Southern Louisiana native, celebrates the Cajun and Creole dishes of New Orleans and coastal Louisiana, coupled with seasonal Northern California ingredients. Additionally, Boxing Room offers oysters from the raw bar, and an extensive selection of beer and wine on tap. Since opening, Boxing Room has been named one of San Francisco’s Best New Restaurants by 7x7 magazine, and San Francisco magazine gave the restaurant a 3-star review. Boxing Room is open daily for dinner, lunch during the week, and brunch on the weekend.
The Absinthe Group (TAG), founded and managed by food-industry veteran Bill Russell-Shapiro, creates and operates unique, high-quality food and wine enterprises. TAG includes a carefully built collection of six businesses, five of which are located in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. They are overseen by seasoned restaurant- and wine-manager Eric Vreede, and by TAG executive chef Adam Keough, executive pastry chef Bill Corbett, and wine director Ian Becker. These include Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, Absinthe Private Dining, Arlequin Café and Food-To-Go, Arlequin Wine Merchant, and, in partnership with former Absinthe head bartenders Jonny Raglin and Jeff Hollinger, Comstock Saloon in North Beach. TAG is associated with Mad Will’s Foods, specializing in bottled-foods production at Auburn in the foothills of the Sierra.