MAUI'S OWN STAR . . . Have you been watching the Bravo Media Channel on cable TV lately? You'll find that Maui has a Shane Victorino of the culinary kind hitting it out of the ballpark.
Executive Chef Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle in Lahaina and Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop in Olowalu has been rising like cream to the top in the hugely popular "Top Chef" series, weekly since its 10th season started Nov. 7
In a recent episode, he snagged $10,000 by making sinigang, a Filipino seafood soup. Last night, he built his dream eatery from "the ground up" in the "Restaurant Wars" episode. Judges included Emeril Lagasse, who needs no further introduction here; and Tom Colicchio, cofounder of Gramercy Tavern in the Big Apple.
Five-time James Beard Award winning chef and cofounder of New York’s Gramercy Tavern, Chef Tom Colicchio (left), with Maui’s own Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle on Bravo Media Channel’s “Top Chef” recently. It airs at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
DAVID MOIR Bravo / photo
"I named my restaurant concept 'Urbano' after my grandfather," says Simeon. "His name was Urban, but I gave it a contemporary twist. It was nice to go back to my roots and do a modern take. I'm pushing myself as a chef and seeing what I'm capable of. It's wonderful to work with these pros, like Danny Myers, who's won about 25 James Beard Awards."
What does all that star power bring? We hear that Simeon is on a short hiatus from Star Noodle, cooking at the private Vintage Cave club on Oahu, where charter membership costs $500,000 per person. It's located in a huge, cave-like facility designed like the Roman underground at Ala Moana Shopping Center.
SUNNY SOUTH MAUI . . . Speaking of "clubs," there is a new and waaaaaay more affordable weekly supper club program at Grand Wailea's Bistro's Molokini that will debut Monday and repeat Saturday, Jan. 26. This month's series is entitled the Pig and her Pineapple.
"Join the club and enjoy supper with us featuring culinary art by Chefs Michael Young and Jessica Gallegos and Pastry Chef Natalie Wilkinson," says Grand Wailea's Director of Public Relations Christina Yumul.
"Delight in the challenge of the month with a three-course menu featuring two special local ingredients. Wine pairing is also available at an additional cost. Supper club guests will receive a $25 dining coupon."
Why pig and pineapple? Because the first course will be Maui's own Malama Farms sausage-stuffed Medjool dates with housemade bacon, local watercress and roasted piquillo sauce. Malama Farms is located in Haiku and humanely raises Berkshire pigs in an organic manner. The dinner will also include Malama's pork loin with housemade bacon and garlic corn; as well as a pineapple-chocolate cookie sandwich. The dinner costs $42 per person, plus tax and tip. For reservations at Grand Wailea, call 875-1234.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Of course, French chef Gerard Reversade was the first Mauian to embrace Malama Farms and put its Berkshire pork on his menu. Oh-la-la, it's savory to the max.
His restaurant, Gerard's at the Plantation Inn in Lahaina, received the highest rating in the state (28) in the 2013 Zagat Hawaii Guide that just hit bookstores. Gerard's top ratings were for the following categories: Celebrity Chef, Garden Dining, Romantic Place, Special Occasion, Tasting Menu, Wine List, Worth a Trip (right along with Mama's) and French. In fact, Gerard's, along with Mama's Fish House, got the highest rating in the entire state in many of the categories, or second only after the acclaimed Le Mer at Halekulani.
Speaking of Mama's Fish House, I just read about its General Manager Tami Joslin in Hawaii Fishing News. She was written up and pictured as a "hardcore kayak fishing wahine," who put her 30-pound ono she caught off Olowalu on the menu at the popular restaurant. Tami's husband, Mark Joslin, was also in Hawaii Fishing News recently, featured on the cover in a splashy photo.
It seems there's always something new cooking on the Maui restaurant scene. Blue Pacific Juice took over 32 Jamba Juice stores in Hawaii.
It also owns and operates 27 Jack in the Box restaurants. "We've been fans of Jamba Juice for a more then decade and we're thrilled to add Jamba Juice to our portfolio," says Chris Scanlan, president and CEO.