Interview with 2012 Hawaii Rising Star Chef Sheldon Simeon

November 2012

Antoinette Bruno: When did you start cooking and why?

Sheldon Simeon: I always cooked. Growing up from a young age my parents taught me and my brother how to cook. My mom and dad were the best cooks I know. I was always surrounded by food. Our house was sort of the gathering spot for parties. Professionally, my first real culinary job was at Pizza Hut while in high school. I was about 16 years old. From there I just got hooked on the industry.

AB: Who is your mentor?

SS: My dad. His most important lesson was to cook with your heart. Cooking is one of the best feelings. When you cook for somebody and you know you are nourishing them, that's the best feeling. Preparing something for somebody and watching them enjoy it is amazing.

AB: What is the hardest thing you've had to do professionally?

SS: Being dedicated to my job and spending time away from my family is probably the hardest thing. I'm blessed to have an understanding wife, though, and she's very supportive of my career.

AB: What are you most proud of?

SS: Star Noodle and what we've brought to Maui. Our success and the hard work of all our cooks. Just seeing it blossom, seeing it flourish into what it is now, was amazing.

AB: How important is the culinary community on the island? How do you get involved?

SS: I'm a graduate of Maui Culinary Academy, and I'm continually in contact with them for a number of things. A lot of our employees are graduates of the program there. We take stages from the local college [and] we do a lot of community events. It's a tight community.

AB: Where do you see yourself in five years?

SS: Hopefully I'll still be with the company and have a new concept restaurant to continue what we're doing here. I'd like to hopefully see my sous chefs have the same opportunities that I've had here. I'd like to step back and see them run Star Noodle themselves. I'm the executive chef of Star Noodle but I'm not the owner. In five years I'd like to have my own place, maybe under the company umbrella.