Hilo native to compete on Top Chef


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The 10th season of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” debuts Wednesday, and among the 21 cheftestants hoping to earn the coveted title — and celebrity chef stardom — is Hilo native Sheldon Simeon.

The 30-year-old Simeon, 2000 Hilo High graduate, is executive chef at Star Noodle in Lahaina, Maui. He was selected last year as a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award and Star Noodle was a semi-finalist for “Best New Restaurant.”

Also in 2011, Maui No Ka OiMagazine named him “Chef of the Year,” while he garnered a nomination this year from Food & Wine Magazine for “Best New Chef People’s Choice.”

Simeon told the Tribune-Herald last year that his favorite creation on Star Noodle’s menu is the pohole salad.

“That’s the fiddle-head fern salad,” he said. “In Hilo, we call it warabi. Filipinos call ’em pako. That dish is kind of my whole take on it. It speaks of my roots, being from Hilo.”

He said that while Star Noodle is more upscale than most Hawaii noodle shops, the fare is unpretentious.

“Our dishes are true to staying local,” Simeon said. “It’s not catered to what we think people want to eat. We cook what we want to cook. We work hard at what we do.”

Simeon is a 2003 graduate of Maui Culinary Academy and worked as an intern at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where he met his wife, Janice, a Maui girl. The couple has three young daughters, Chloe, Peyton and Quinn.

The young chef shows off his formidable knife skills on Bravo TV’s website in an instructional video titled “Clean bell peppers like a chef.”

The upcoming season of the popular cheftestant show is set in Seattle, and the most recognizable name in fine dining, Wolfgang Puck, joins Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Hugh Atcheson and Emeril Lagasse as judges. The show is Bravo’s top-rated program, and is the most watched cable program among adults 18-49 in its time slot.

The debut episode of “Top Chef: Seattle” is at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7, on Bravo, Oceanic Time-Warner digital cable channel 560.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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