In 1996, a talented young chef, Jeff Simms, joined the culinary team at The Breakers Palm Beach, and today almost 25 years later, he holds the position of executive chef of banquets at the legendary oceanfront resort. An effective and engaging leader, he oversees a team of 60 staff members from around the world to orchestrate all resort banquet operations, including food service at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
Simms’ outstanding banquet fare rivals that served in America’s finest restaurants, yet he delivers the highest-level quality and presentation to as many as 25,000 guests per month. He coordinates meticulously prepared and visually stunning meals that consistently earn rave reviews by the most astute clients — whether the chairpersons of gala fundraising events, corporate meeting planners, or the most discerning mother of the bride. Driving his success is a two-fold mission: to procure the best available, locally sourced products from the most respected purveyors, or go to the greatest lengths to procure elsewhere if not obtainable in the region; and to use methods of preparation that liberate the true nature of the food and release the purest flavors of his dishes.
“As we work very closely with meeting and event planners and develop long-standing relationships with them, they have learned to trust our expertise in local ingredients that taste amazing. Ultimately, they give us leeway to create fantastic menus for events,” said Simms. “A client bringing in a group of 400 could have sea bass on their original menu; I may learn that my fish purveyor is having a huge run on wahoo or snapper, and if [the planner] is open, we’ll modify the dish they want to serve on the menu. The client deeply appreciates that we provide the opportunity to enjoy something caught right here in South Florida.”
Simms attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to his arrival at The Breakers Palm Beach, he was executive chef at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. He has earned numerous culinary accolades in his career, particularly for his expertise in preparing restaurant-quality cuisine in a banquet setting; among them the Culinary Excellence Award from La Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a prestigious food and wine society, and the Outstanding Culinary Achievement Award from the American Academy of Chefs. Simms has been recognized with the Chef Professionalism Award in 2016, the Chef of the Year Award in 2011 and 2007, and Member of the Year Award in 2005, all bestowed by the American Culinary Federation of Palm Beach
County. Johnson & Wales University, renowned for its culinary arts education program, honored Simms as Distinguished Visiting Chef and Palm Beach Daily News named him one of 100 leaders in Palm Beach.
Under Simms’ leadership, The Breakers received the Award of Excellence from the American Culinary Federation in 2012. The award was created to honor properties that demonstrate excellence and passion for the culinary arts through its unparalleled food and beverage program.
Reflecting a lifetime of dedication to excellence in the culinary arts, in 2018, he was inducted into the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque, and into the American Academy of Chefs as an honorary member in 2016.
In his free time, Chef Simms donates his culinary artistry to local charities such as Children’s Home Society, the Chef and the Child Foundation, and serves on the Advisory Board for Quantum House. He is currently a member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and serves as First Vice President of the ACF Palm Beach County Chapter’s Board of Directors.
Chef Simms’ thirst for knowledge is manifested in continuing education programs and he enjoys “paying it forward” and passing on his skills, experiences and wealth of knowledge by teaching and training young chefs, particularly apprentices and externs, who universally regard him as their mentor.