By Sonia Isotov
Last week, Maui’s own Chef Sheldon Simeon and Lahaina’s Star Noodle were both among a list of semifinalist winners announced for the coveted annual James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards.
Deemed “the Oscars of the food world,” by Time magazine, The James Beard Foundation Awards are the country’s most coveted honor for chefs; food and beverage professionals; broadcast media, journalists, and authors working on food; and restaurant architects and designers.
Selected in the category “Best Rising Star Chef of the Year”, Chef Simeon said, “It’s amazing. It’s one of those things that for me, and I can speak for chefs around the world, the James Beard is the most prestigious award you can get. Just to be recognized on a national level and being from out here in Maui, a small little 50-seat restaurant, it’s just ecstatic.”
Chef Simeon, born in Hilo, came to Maui 10 years ago, by way of Walt Disney World, where he met his Maui-born wife. He is a graduate of the UH Maui College’s Maui Culinary Academy and started as a prep cook with the company who owns Star Noodle, Hoaloha Na Eha Ltd. Hoaloha Na Eha Ltd. also own the Old Lahaina Luau and Aloha Mixed Plate.
Selected in the category “Best New Restaurant”, Star Noodle can be found tucked away at the top of Lahaina Business Park. The “noodle house” menu features traditional Asian dishes with a contemporary local-style twist. Included are house-made noodles, the old-style shared-plate concept, and a specialty sake-cocktail menu developed exclusively by a mixologist.
Prices are very affordable, “We want people to come in with their aunties, right off the beach, or to have a celebration. We want anybody to be able to come in and enjoy themselves.”
Chef Simeon wanted to send a special “mahalo” out to Maui, and said, “The old saying rings true that it takes a village to raise a child and there were a lot of people who contributed to Star Noodle and I would like to thank everyone. I just want to thank all of Maui for their support.”
To give you a taste of the food fare, imagine their offering from last Friday, “Seared duck breast with an Asian pear and honey glaze accompanied by braised daikon and ali’i mushrooms all over kau yuk sauce.”
Finalists in the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards will be announced March 21, after judges from across the country vote to narrow down the list. Winners will be announced in May.
2011 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists in Hawaii are few and include:
BEST CHEF: PACIFIC, Kevin Chong, Chef Mavro, Honolulu
BEST NEW RESTAURANT, Star Noodle, Lahaina, HI
RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR, Sheldon Simeon, Star Noodle, Lahaina, HI