Las Vegas lost one of its most celebrated luminaries last month with the passing of rock ‘n’ roll chef Kerry Simon. Exalted by foodies of varying palates — from five-star dining connoisseurs to junk food lovers — Kerry brought many a much ballyhooed culinary twist to a city that loved him as much as he did it. Who else could, in one fell swoop, redeem cotton candy from its low-rent position as a circus side show along with convenience store staples Rice Crispy treats and Ding Dongs into an indulgent platter fit for white-tablecloth dining?
The same kind-spirited soul who pioneered so many innovations on the culinary landscape also steered our attention to, and familiarized us with, Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) upon his diagnosis. In turn, we had a front seat to Kerry’s courageous battle as he used his celebrity status to fundraise and draw attention to the obscure neurological disorder.
His efforts led to a Global MSA Research Roadmap Conference which was held at the city’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health/Cleveland Clinic last November. It was through Kerry’s influence that key medical leaders from four continents, 12 countries, 30 academic institutions, and 15 pharmaceutical companies came to Las Vegas to share MSA research. He also shared the story of his experience with MSA in the inaugural issue of this magazine earlier this year, of which, we will be eternally grateful.
Even though Kerry is gone, the work he began continues. His advocacy and fundraising efforts created a clinic dedicated to MSA at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health which is focused on the continued study of the disease while also providing treatment for MSA sufferers.
Later this month, the Keep Memory Alive Center at Downtown’s Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will host a celebration of Kerry’s life. The private event will feature celebrity chefs making Kerry’s most well-loved dishes, pajama-clad servers in ode to his popular brunch at Simon, and bands playing his favorite music — a bash truly befitting of a rock ‘n’ roll chef.
To support MSA research, visit keepmemoryalive.org.