Tanya Boggs Photography

Local nonprofit AMOR Healing Kitchen has named Ben Simon its new culinary director, following the departure of Justin Booher earlier this month. The Massachusetts-born chef joins AMOR after spending time in kitchens all over the country, including Felix Cocktails et Cuisine on King Street and three Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas.

At AMOR, executive director Maria Kelly and Simon lead a group of teen volunteers who help prepare plant-based meals for clients facing critical health challenges.

“I saw Maria’s post on Facebook, and I saw how passionate she is,” Simon said. “I researched her foundation and found out all the good she was doing for the community.” 

Fresh off a visit to a local farm, Simon told the City Paper that he’s looking forward to the challenge of cooking solely plant-based cuisine after years of working in fine dining restaurants like Joël Robuchon, where the kitchen churned out a 16-course tasting menu with its fair share of meat. 

“I’ve worked for some pretty big names throughout my career, and I noticed that it’s the movement today to go plant-based. It’s an amazing adjustment. I love it so far,” Simon said. “We meet all these farmers that are just doing wonderful things for the land.”  

Moving forward, Simon hopes to help AMOR reach even more locals in need of healthy meals. 

“We really want to expand hopefully do some plant-based cooking classes. We’re going to start doing more events in the fall,” Simon said. “My main goal is really to expand AMOR for our clients. We have the volunteers to do it.” 

For more information on AMOR Healing Kitchen, visit amorhealingkitchen.org