February 21, 2013 3:12pm PT by Seth Abramovitch
'Top Chef Seattle': 6 Questions With Sheldon Simeon
Throughout Top Chef Seattle, no one made a more endearing impression than Sheldon Simeon, a Hawaiian Care Bear who spoke in a soothing Pidgin English and cooked beautiful and complex food with heavy Asian influences. In last night's episode, Sheldon and Brooke Williamson were reunited with Kristen Kish, winner of companion web series Last Chance Kitchen. After watching the season along with the rest of us, Simeon decided that his cooking lacked range, and so he went out of his comfort zone for the challenge, taped last week at the L.A. outpost of Tom Colicchio's Craft. His very un-Sheldony spot prawns, quail and white chocolate mousse dessert failed to dazzle the judges, and Simeon was denied entry to the finale.
He's taking it in stride, however, as The Hollywood Reporter learned in a short conversation on Thursday.
The Hollywood Reporter: Where are you right now?
Simeon: I am sitting at my auntie’s house in Waipahu on the island of Oahu.
THR: I’m bummed you didn’t make it to the final two!
Simeon: I didn’t? I watched a different show, I guess. I have no regrets of what happened throughout the season. I got to experience so much amazing things. Last night was great. It’s been a hell of a run.
THR: Do you think it was because you left your cooking comfort zone?
Simeon: I had some time off from Alaska until the finale, and I watched the season and thought, “I’m the guy from Hawaii who cooked Asian food.” I wanted to showcase that I could grow, that I wasn’t just that one chef, that I’m so much more than just island food. I just overthought it last night. But I have no regrets. At that moment, that’s what my heart felt and that’s what I put on the plate.
THR: Your food looked great. Where can I eat it?
Simeon: For the moment you can come down to any one of our restaurants. It’s Star Noodle in Lahaina, Maui. You can always try it out at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, also in Maui. And the Old Lahaina Luau. Come check us out. Maui’s not a bad place to be.
THR: You brought Maui to the show. I don’t think I ever saw you lose your temper or even get stressed. What’s your secret?
Simeon: The first part of last night’s show, where I got to showcase Maui, me being down by the beach with my family and friends, that’s really who I am as a person. Me going on this television show being a chef, that really comes second to who I am and what Hawaii is all about.
THR: Do you have any ambitions to host your own show in the future?
Simeon: (Laughs.) It was definitely a learning experience. I was a hot mess in front of the cameras at the beginning of the season, but now it’s become kind of normal. So if there’s opportunities to showcase something, it definitely won’t be serious, I’ll tell you that. But if there was an opportunity to do a television show where I can showcase myself and having a ton of fun, maybe.
THR: Finally, if you could eat one meal in the U.S., where would it be?
Simeon: It would have to be at Alinea. That’s [progressive chef] Grant Achatz’s spot in Chicago. It’s so far from what I do. I’d love to eat there.