John Simmons began cooking professionally at the ripe old age of 15 years old, preparing cabbage soup, flipping leo omelets and washing dishes at a local deli. He continued to cook his way through high school and college, earning beer money and a degree in economics at the University of Illinois along the way. Despite John’s enjoyment of the restaurant world, a career in the kitchen never crossed his mind.
After a few years of toiling in an office, however, he decided that there’s no place like home and in the kitchen John was home. He enrolled at Kendall College Culinary School in Evanston, IL and earned his degree in culinary arts. After a year cooking in sunny Sonoma, CA, wine country he returned to Chicago and got a job on the line at a new restaurant opening in his neighborhood, Bistrot Zinc, run by a large and talented rockstar French chef, Rene Bajeux.
He learned a lot from Rene and within 3 years John was running Bistrot Zinc, Café Zinc, and opened a second Bistrot Zinc on the Gold Coast.
Shortly thereafter Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises came calling. It seems they were opening a monstrous French Bistro at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and needed a chef. John told them “d’accord” and shipped out to Paris, Las Vegas.
Mon Ami Gabi was an immediate smash hit and became one of the 10 highest grossing restaurants in the country. After 4 years as the executive chef at MAG it was time for John to do his own thing. In 2003, that’s when Firefly* Tapas Kitchen and Bar was conceived and subsequently born.
In 2003, I placed Firefly* centrally located so that locals, entertainers, performers, and visitors can hit the Fly* from any corner of town for tapas and sangria. We’ve been bangin out covers ever since.
John Simmons | Chef