Sheldon Simeon's Filipino Feast
Rodman Machado teamed up with celebrity chef Sheldon Simeon for a 5-course dinner with cocktail and wine parings. Simeon, TV host, chef and owner of Tin Roof on Maui, is a Top Chef finalist who won Fan Favorite in Season 10; has two James Beard nominations; and two Food & Wine People’s Choice awards. Machado, a farm-to-table advocate, executive chef at the Kauai Beach Resort, and winner of the 2016 Tasting Kauai Coconut Cook-off, sources from more than 10 Hawaii producers. The chefs met when Machado was a teacher and Simeon was a student at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and both embrace their Filipino heritage for this Celebrity Chef’s Feast at Naupaka Terrace.
“Kauai is so friendly and welcoming,” says Simeon, “and when I’m here we always talk about God’s country. Kauai produces some of the best lamb I’ve ever tasted. The shrimp, clams and produce are a gift.”
Sheldon Simeon’s first course is Sabao & Rice. Tomato, onion and ginger, which Simeon calls the Filipino trinity, and a dash of patis (Filipino oyster sauce), make a broth that’s poured over steamed white rice. Kauai clams sautéed in bacon, sea asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and slices of raw white onion float on top, with a drizzle with lemon olive oil.
Tropical flowers in tall vases flank long tables draped in white linen. White and purple orchids float in clear glass vases topped with fat white candles. My table mate, a cook at Daddy O’s restaurant in Lihue, laughs at the thought of eating sabao during a fine meal such as this. She tells me she’s Filipino and this is a dish families make when they don’t have much money.
“This is a lot better than what I grew up with!” She says and eats every grain of rice.
Braised Kilauea Lamb Shank Tortellini, Machado’s second course, is one of my favorites of the evening. The shredded lamb is moist and rich and tucked inside house-made pasta. Reduced braising broth pools around two fat tortellini and baby yellow carrots are placed on top.
“We are the only property on the island that has this lamb,” says Machado. “It comes from AkuaMakanalani Ranch in Kilauea. It’s a closed-herd with special genetics so there’s no gamy taste.”
Sheldon Simeon’s third course evokes the sea. An olive green swipe of bok choy leaves emulsified in lemon olive oil is bisected by silky ulu (breadfruit) puree. White foam spills around a square of pan-roasted uku (blue-green snapper) that’s finished with that lemon olive oil and Hanapepe sea salt. Three bright green leaves of baby bok choy lightly coated in a lemon vinaigrette are placed on top, near a cluster of pickled choy stems.
“I made the breadfruit like Robuchon, a chef known for his potatoes,” says Simeon. “We slow-roasted the ulu for four hours, cooked it in heavy cream, then I added as much butter as I could!”
Next up is Kaneshiro Crispy Pork Belly Tonino-Style, with a Kilauea tomato salad, cilantro and ginger persillade, garlic chips and a tasty turnip cake.
“This is a classic Filipino take on pork belly,” says Machado. “I asked farmer Ken what he had and he said turnips, so I used them in a cake!”
Dessert is the chefs’ upscale take on Halo Halo, a Filipino favorite. Coconut flavored shave ice is studded with purple sweet potatoes, palm fruit tapioca pearls, and fortified with Koloa Coconut Rum. A banana creme brûlée is served alongside.
At the end of the evening, guests are given framed and autographed copies of the menu along with Kauai Beach Resort champagne glasses.
“It’s always an honor to represent Hawaii and cook for my community,” says Simeon. “If you cut me open, I’ll be bleeding 808 until I die.”
The next Celebrity Chef’s Feast at Naupaka Terrace will be this December with celebrity chef Ed Kenney. If you want to receive the announcement, call to be added to Kauai Beach Resort’s mailing list, or watch Tasting Kauai’s Facebook page.
4331 Kauai Beach Drive, Lihue