“It was quite a journey,” said Sheldon Simeon, third place finalist on the 10th season of Bravo television’s popular show, Top Chef. Although Sheldon did not make it to the finale, he has no regrets.
The finale airs tonight and it’s between Brooke Williamson and Kristen Kish; however, don’t expect Sheldon to pick a side. “I respect Kristen and Brooke very much, so it’s whoever puts out better food [to] win Top Chef.”
His kind spirit and charisma can be attributed to his Hawaii upbringing and love for his family. “It was definitely difficult being away from my family, but what was cool was that, several of us had families and we could relate to each other. That made it [just] a little easier. I have three beautiful girls and not being able to speak to them was difficult. I kept them in my heart, and I believe that what kept me going was the thought of my girls and having a better future for them."
I interviewed Sheldon to find out his thoughts on tonight’s finale, reincarnation, and his future plans.
Examiner: If you could redo any dish, which would it be?
Sheldon: “The quail [dish], I would have [maybe] chosen something else, or maybe I would have roasted the pine nuts. I try not to look back at the show and [think], what could I have done. In that moment, that’s what I felt to cook, but I guess the judges had felt differently. It is what it is!
Examiner: Did you have a favorite judge?
Sheldon: No favorites, but I enjoyed my conversations with Emeril. [He] felt like a mentor that I’ve known for a while. His words have always been encouraging.
Examiner: Did growing up in Hawaii help you to be a better chef?
Sheldon: Growing up in Hawaii you have a great flavor palate from all the different cultures that reside in Hawaii. Growing up, I lived in a Filipino household, but I always had Kimchee, Char Siu, and I had Lau Lau, all [the] different cultures influence Hawaiian cuisine so much.
Examiner: Besides yourself, do you think that anyone was eliminated too soon?
Sheldon: Yeah, I think Kuniko. I respect her very much, and she’s an amazing chef, and [also] “C.J.” Just to see “C.J” battle it out on Last Chance Kitchen, I respected both of their skills.
Examiner: What are your thoughts on Top Chef adding Last Chance Kitchen as part of the show?
Sheldon: It’s a part of the show, and if I was eliminated I would want to have a fighting chance to [go] back. I guess in the end, it just [proves] that you can do it, with Kristen being in the finale.
Examiner: Please finish this sentence, “If I could be reincarnated as any food dish, I would be…
Sheldon: [laughter]. Oh my goodness. Shoots. I would be… I would be chocolate because everyone loves chocolate, and there’s so many memories connected to chocolate. You’re happy when you’re eating chocolate, and that’s what I’m all about— just enjoying food.
Examiner: How has Top Chef helped advance your career?
Sheldon: [Star Noodle and Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop located in Maui, Hawaii] have had a significant increase, hopefully some future endeavors, recognition on the street, and it has connected me to some major people in the industry. I’ve been able to meet a lot of great people and I have a lot of new friends now.
Examiner: Any last minute remarks?
Sheldon: I want to think everyone out there. [People] have been very supportive, and kind with words. Also, [I’d] like to give a shout out to my Sous Chef, Jay. It’s because of him that I got to be away from the restaurant, and he held it down for the time I [was] away. He made the Star Noodle blossom.
Watch the “Top Chef” finale on Bravo at 8 p.m. tonight.