When you live on Maui, Chef Sheldon Simeon is a household name. He’s very beloved by the community and you’ll often hear locals raving about his restaurant Tin Roof. Of course, it quickly became one of our favorite places for take-out, mochiko chicken and ulu mac salad always so ono. When he was still at Lineage, it was our go-to fancy spot for special occasions. We went back to celebrate my husband’s birthday in 2021, and after tasting the food we just knew Chef Sheldon wasn’t there anymore – that’s how distinct his cooking is! We spent the whole dinner circling back to the fact that something was indeed missing. We hadn’t heard the news about him leaving Lineage, but it was written all over the food.
It’s no surprise how hard Hawai’i rides for this local Filipino from Hilo. He describes his culinary style as “celebrating the multicultural flavors of Hawai’i.” A true art form. His love for these islands shows, as he says, “I always put extra Aloha in my food.. and sometimes a dash of patis (fish sauce).”
Before he became Chef Sheldon, he was learning all about his craft from his family in Hilo. “Food is everything in my family. We learned to respect food at a very young age. It was both a chore and a reward. My household was a gathering place for the community. It wasn’t uncommon for us to cook up a meal for 800 people for someone’s wedding, baby party etc.”
Chef Sheldon has been making big waves in the culinary industry on Maui and beyond. He received his first James Beard nomination when he was the executive chef at Star Noodle in Lahaina, for Rising Star Chef of the Year and Best New Restaurant in the country. That’s when Top Chef gave him a call, and the rest is history. He became a fan favorite of the season in 2012, shining a light on the food on and culture of Hawai’i. That doesn’t come without it’s own obstacles though. “The constant battle is educating people that Hawaiian food isn’t pineapples and mango salsa, but rather a cuisine steeped in rich history and bursting with unique flavors.”
Chef Sheldon and his wife opened their first restaurant, Tin Roof, in 2016 in Kahului. An up-leveled plate lunch spot known to have a long line coming out the front door. Rightfully so, with dishes like chop steak, fat chow funn and garlic shrimp that keep locals and tourists alike coming back for more. He opened up Lineage a few years later, an upscale fusion of Filipino and Hawaiian cuisine that the whole island was excited about. In the beginning of 2020, it was announced that Chef Sheldon was stepping back from the restaurant and placing the Wailea restaurant into the hands of chef MiJin Kang Toride.
He released his cookbook, Cook Real Hawai’i in 2021. Staying true to his roots of course, featuring recipes drawing inspiration from the Philippines to Hawai’i Nei like pork belly adobo, cauliflower katsu curry and sweet and sour roasted beet mui.
“The Hawaiian band Kaau Crater Boys was actually one of my earliest influences, albeit indirectly. I loved their music so much that I spent all my free time learning how to play every single note of their music on my ukulele, basically to the point of obsession. That determination really opened my eyes to the possibilities and things I could achieve when I focused in on something.”
“Put yourselves in uncomfortable positions, be vulnerable and learn to take Ls. Success takes sacrifice. Don’t stop at the first site of adversity.
To quote Uncle Ben, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ In other words, don’t forget people are looking to you for advice, for a path, etc. Don’t take that lightly.”
Check out his latest cookbook, Cook Real Hawai’i!
All proceeds sold through the Tin Roof restaurant, get donated directly to the Maui Food Bank. We’ve already donated over 203k meals in the last year!
Newsletter, Giveaways, Events & More