New Cuisine Head at Continental

12 October, 2015 by
Hospitality Business

Z Simo Abbari  Exec Chef Continental_optCanterbury catering and hires business Continental just switched its cuisine delivery up a notch with the appointment of Simo Abbari as Executive Chef.

Highly regarded amongst foodies in Canterbury and further afield, Moroccan-born Simo brings a wealth of international cuisine and management experience to the Continental team. 

The energetic chef lost two Christchurch restaurants and a cooking school to the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, possibly the best known being his signature award-winning Restaurant Simo’s at Crowne Plaza Christchurch.  He has since been splitting his time between his newer New Zealand businesses – delicatessen/cafe/cooking school Mosaic by Simo Catering and a Simo’s Food brand – along with consultancy work in restaurants in Spain, Dubai and Morocco, and leading New Zealand cuisine tours to Morocco.

Originally trained in classical French cuisine, Simo worked in various kitchens in Europe and North Africa (including being in charge of first class airline catering based in Tripoli) before settling in Christchurch, New Zealand to raise a family some 22 years ago.  Simo then worked at the Millennium Hotel, Christchurch Parkroyal, Convention Centre and Westpac Trust Centre before opening his own ventures.


Simo’s breadth of cuisine knowledge and experience in out-catering and leading kitchen teams made him the ideal Continental candidate, said managing director Greg Ward. “The fact that Simo is an expert in catering for special dietary needs was another appealing aspect to us.  Simo takes great pride in designing dishes for vegetarians and vegans, as well those who require particular cultural or non-allergenic food options.  There’s certainly an increase in demand for this type of tailoring from our wedding and corporate clients.”

A keen advocate for organic and free-range products, Simo’s desire and ability to create healthy, tasty food has won him numerous awards such as Outstanding South Island Restaurant of the Year (2004) and Best Kitchen Team.   

As Continental’s Executive Chef, Simo will be overseeing the cuisine direction all Continental’s food-based activities: Event Catering (weddings, private occasions, public and sporting events, corporate catering, conferencing and tradeshows); the Alff (Allergy Free Foods) brand; day-time restaurant Kingsford Kitchen in Southbrook; The Bakery at Rangiora; and the distinctive yet different styles of Continental’s exclusive venues – Newbery Lodge, Christchurch Gondola and Christchurch Tram. 

Simo will also continue to offer cooking classes from Continental’s main kitchens at Southbook and hopes those who have enjoyed his cuisine over the years will sample what’s on offer at Kingsford Kitchen or join in future classes.