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‘Top Chef’ Favorite Sheldon Simeon Has Big Plans for Hawaiʻi

Lineage brings family recipes and Hawaiian culinary traditions to Maui this summer

Sheldon Simeon
Ian Stroud

Like Tin Roof, the mostly bowl-focused lunch spot chef Sheldon Simeon opened in 2016, Lineage, the Top Chef alum’s newest restaurant, is located in an unassuming Maui strip mall. And like that restaurant, which is named for the tin roofs that cover houses in Sheldon’s native Hilo, Hawaiʻi is at its center. “I think it says it all in the name,” Simeon explains. “It’s celebrating family recipes and Hawaiʻi techniques. It’s about preservation, cultivation, and the products of Hawaiʻi.”

When it opens this summer, Lineage will be Simeon’s first full-service restaurant. The dishes, designed to be shared, are derived from Simeon’s own family recipes from the Philippines as well as recipes that are a part of traditional Hawaiian cuisine.

Drawing on tradition wasn’t easy. For Lineage’s pork adobo, Simeon took a trip to the Philippines to find his grandmother’s recipe. “I learned it from a chef from the region where my grandmother was from,” Simeon says. “And when I returned back home, I cooked it for my dad. And he was like, ‘Oh, this is the closest representation to how my grandmother made it.’”

Simeon has also been reading Hawaiian cookbooks for research, and the restaurant will employ longstanding Hawaiian techniques, like the Hawaiian cowboy, or paniolo, tradition of making pipkaula, a salted, dried beef. It’s important to Simeon to use ingredients native to Hawaiʻi, but not often seen in restaurants outside of small mom and pops. “There’s different seaweed that I’ve never seen served in a restaurant before. But we eat it and we have it at home at family parties,” he explains.

A bowl at Tin Roof
Bolster Media

The chef wants guests to feel like they’re attending a family party when dining at Lineage, and dim sum carts that deliver food table side will help with this. “It’s like if you welcome them into your house,” Simeon says. “Let me get you something to eat or something to drink before even dinner starts.”

Although Lineage is nestled between a general store and a convenience store, Simeon thinks guests will be reminded of the island surroundings at the restaurant. Almost half of its 80 seats are on an outdoor patio, and the interior, filled with lush, green tones and light wood, will bring the tropics to mind.

Lineage is still under construction and on track to open later this year, but it’s not the only new restaurant in Simeon’s future. He hopes to eventually grow Tin Roof outside of Maui, to other parts of Hawaiʻi and maybe even the mainland. There are no definite plans yet, but he imagines any “town that has that hospitality and Aloha spirit” would be a good fit.

Simeon’s ultimate goal is to bring Hawaiʻi’s food to restaurant diners, tourists included. “To really get into Hawaiʻi cuisine right now, you actually have to be invited into somebody’s home or go to a party,” he says. “And we’re just trying to celebrate that in a restaurant setting.”

[Disclosure: Sheldon Simeon is host of the Eater video series Cooking In America.]

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