Chef on a Hot Tin Roof

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Story by Becky Speere | Photography by Mieko Horikoshi

Tin Roof owners
Sheldon and Janice Simeon greet you at the counter. So does this painting of a cane worker, for sale by Maui artist Reuben Cantere Jr.

Standing behind the counter at their spanking new restaurant, owners Sheldon and Janice Simeon beam with parental pride. Already blessed with four spirited children (Chloe, Peyton, Quinn, and Asher), they know their newest baby, Tin Roof, will require just as much love and attention.

Sheldon named the restaurant for his childhood memory of rain falling on the corrugated roof of his home in Pepe‘ekeo, on the outskirts of Hilo. If you’ve been fortunate enough to experience this, you know the rain can gently pitter-patter, or thunder down so heavily, conversations stop in their tracks.

Life in that small plantation town was as slow and easy as the molasses that once poured from the now-defunct Hāmākua Sugar Mill. And it was in his parents’ home — under their tin roof — that Sheldon acquired his passion for good food.

“My dad used to cater parties, and me and my brother would help him. It was a family affair. Also, my aunt is a really good cook, and when I went to culinary school in Honolulu, I got to spend time with her in her kitchen.”

Inspired by his plantation past, Sheldon created and honed recipes, first as executive chef of award-winning Star Noodle in Lahaina, then at MiGRANT in Wailea. Tin Roof is a family affair: a mom-and-pop café in a commercial rather than resort area, offering affordable comfort food using quality ingredients.

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