Story by Krista Garcia
Sheldon Simeon, two-time Bravo Top Chef finalist and owner of Tin Roof Maui restaurant in Kahului, has always been a local favorite, but now he’s enjoying worldwide success with his best-selling cookbook, Cook Real Hawai‘i (Clarkson/Potter, 2021).
“When I was approached to write the book I was like, I’ve never written a full paragraph in my life!” Simeon says, laughing. “But my coauthor, Garrett Snyder, was the perfect person to share my stories with. He was able to take my intimate memories and turn them into words.”
Simeon’s collection of 100 recipes celebrates local-style Island cuisine, with dishes influenced by immigrants to Hawai‘i from Japan, Korea, Portugal, China and the Philippines. “I wrote down all the recipes I’d created over the years to pick from — from all my days at Star Noodle, Aloha Mixed Plate, Lineage and Migrant,” he says.
Also included are several of his own family’s recipes which have been passed down through generations, including Pork and Peas, Mochiko Chicken and Adobo. “My dad always spoke about my grandmother’s adobo,” Simeon says. “As time passed, the recipe changed and got kinda washed out, and I wished I could have learned it directly from her. But five years ago, I traveled to the Philippines where a local chef taught me the old way [to make it]. So many family recipes go astray, and I know how precious it is to have been able to preserve our adobo.”
As part of a virtual book “tour,” Simeon is bringing his recipes to life with Cook Real Hawai‘i Live, an Instagram series filmed in his garage-turned-kitchen studio. Each week Simeon hosts a new guest and together they make recipes from the book and talk story. “When we cook ‘em real, that’s how you feel from the heart,” Simeon says.
Visit Simeon’s social media for a schedule of upcoming episodes of Cook Real Hawai’i Live, airing Wednesdays at 4 p.m. HST. All proceeds from the sale of Cook Real Hawai‘i at Tin Roof Maui in Kahului (or at tinroofmaui.com) go to benefit the Maui Food Bank.