Such was the case, too, when he and his wife Janice Simeon bought the nearly two-decade-old Tiffany’s restaurant last year when its former owners, the Orite family, decided to retire. Long an old-school locals’ favorite, the expansive restaurant had a lived-in look and a huge menu leaning into Chinese, Japanese and Korean classics.
When the Simeons took over, they refreshed the interior a bit, but kept its funky island flair. The menu was honed, with some more Filipino influences added, as well as a few of Simeon’s signatures such as his version of Fat Chow Funn.
Having visited nearly every other one of their restaurants, my husband and I couldn’t pass up dining at Tiffany’s on our most recent visit to Maui last month.
The owner of the lovable, guava-sized Tin Roof Hawaiian eatery. A devoted husband and dad. A “Top Chef” finalist and two-time “Fan Favorite.” And what I like to call, the MacGyver of chefs.
There was the time when I dined at one of his previous restaurants, when he talked about how he and a line cook came up with a way to cook perfect pork belly — in Hot Pockets sleeves, of all things.
Then, there was the time when a table of chefs fell silent and began madly typing notes into their phone, when Simeon let slip that he makes his own chow fun noodles and generously began sharing the recipe just like that.
So when I spied that chow fun recipe in his debut cookbook, “Cook Real Hawai’i” (Clarkson Potter), I knew I had to make it. The book was written with Garret Snyder, a former Los Angeles Times food writer.
Through 100 recipes, Simeon gives you a taste of today’s Hawaii, mixing tradition with fun spins that amplify the unique cross-cultural blend of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Filipino and native Hawaiian flavors that makes this cuisine so mouthwatering. Along the way, you get to know him, too, from how his grandpa left the Philippines at age 18 to work on a sugar plantation in Hawaii to how Simeon slyly fed the tired and hungry camera crew of “Top Chef” with his Spam musubi.