Chef Justin Simoneaux

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | May 31st, 2012 | Chef Interviews

What do you get when you combine a chef from New Orleans, a building from the 1800s that used to be home to a shirt factory, and the location of San Francisco?  Boxing Room.  This one year old restaurant serves lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on Saturday and Sunday, and dinner seven nights a week.  Offering hearty Cajun and Creole dishes, you’ll question whether you’re in Louisiana or California.  However, to keep your location in check, you are certain to find many native ingredients throughout your meal.

We were are to speak with Chef Simoneaux to learn more about this restaurant.

TT:  You have a background in Cajun and Creole cooking, which is evident in your
menu. How do you incorporate California ingredients?

CS:  Being in California makes it real easy since everything grows here. The ingredients
that are used in everyday Southern Louisiana cooking I buy here. I highlight seasonal ingredients on a chalkboard of Daily Specials that I try and keep more “California-style”.

TT:  What dish is your favorite infusion of California and New Orleans?

CS:  You know I tried to combine the two in the beginning and it was getting a bit
confusing. Taking a fresh spin on classic Southern Louisiana dish or replacing an ingredient with something else and it wasn’t working for me or the guest for that matter. Now I’m really trying to keep them separate; our everyday menu is filled with untouched classics from Southern Louisiana and I have a chalkboard of Daily Specials that highlight California simplicity. So I guess the answer to your
question is I don’t have one.

TT:  You have house-made tasso on your menu. Do you make other charcuterie items?

CS:  Yes, we make Andouille sausage, hog’s head cheese, chicken liver mousse. On occasion we have made mortadella, porchetta di testa, smoked ham and many different sausages.

TT:  Are you able to source many of your ingredients locally? If so, can you give
a few examples?

CS:  I source pretty much everything locally and what’s not from here is from Louisiana.
All of my vegetables, oysters, poultry, beef, pork and some seafood are all sourced locally. The things that I get from Louisiana (sometimes Florida or Mississippi) are shrimp, crawfish, flounder and catfish.

TT:  Will you be adding any new items to your menu with the arrival of summer?

CS:  Yes, I love the summer time for cooking. Summer is when Louisiana vegetables thrive
as well. Tomatoes, peppers, corn, summer squashes, eggplants, the list goes on and on. A few examples are corn maque choux, succotash, stuffed eggplant, and numerous tomato preparations.

TT:  What makes Boxing Room a unique restaurant?

CS:  I get asked this question a lot and have not come up with one definitive answer. I
think Boxing Room is unique because we are serving traditional Southern Louisiana food, a cuisine that is not often found outside of Southern Louisiana.

(Photo credit: Sarah Logan)

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