Maui Chefs Share Their Latest Culinary Creations

From fresh garden salads to ethereal desserts

Chef Sheldon Simeon continues to succeed at Lineage. (©Isaac Arjonilla)

Simeon Shares His Roots 

When it comes to the kitchen, chef Sheldon Simeon’s culinary philosophy is simple: Cook your food. His no-fuss approach has been his badge of honor, even when he competed in two different seasons of “Top Chef.” Shying away from the celebrity chef status, the Maui resident eschews pretty garnishes, preferring instead the non-Instagram, non-composed look of a dish. With Lineage, Simeon once again delves into his roots, unearthing flavors that are reminiscent of his childhood days growing up in a close-knit Filipino family. This new restaurant, in essence, has become an extension of his house where everyone is treated like ‘ohana and all are welcomed to “eat, drink and talk story,” according to Simeon.

There’s a sense of whimsy—and history—in Lineage’s menu. The “Flying Saucer,” for example, consists of a round, grill-pressed sandwich filled with cheese and Maui venison ragu. Simeon’s interpretation of this one-time Maui Fair staple contains enough nostalgia but with an updated flavor profile. His “Bottom of the Plate Lunch,” as described by Simeon himself, is exactly what it sounds like: the leftover bed of shredded cabbage that has absorbed the juice from, in this case, kal-bi ribs.

“It’s literally the bottom of the plate lunch,” he says. “I shredded the cabbage, added smoked beef drippings and pureed mac salad for the dressing.” Indeed, the elements are familiar, as are the flavors. The Shops at Wailea, 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr.

Lemon chess pie
This lemon chess pie is prepared with kiawe flour. (©Ed Morita)

Baked Goods

Na Hoaloha ‘Ekolu BakeShop’sxecutive pastry chef, Ed Morita, is developing some sweet surprises, including a new lemon chess pie prepared with kiawe flour instead of the traditional cornmeal. “It’s still tart but it also has the sweet essence of the kiawe,” Morita says. “What I’m trying to do is put a local spin on traditional baked goods.” One of his latest, local-gone-gourmet experiments is a kabocha crunch. Instead of baking the Japanese squash, he’s using the imu at Old Lāhainā Lū‘au to smoke the squash. “I’m still trying to find the right amount of smokage,” Morita notes. “Not everyone is familiar with smoked desserts.”

He’s also working on a new line of bagels, malasada, pecan sticky buns, breads and other baked goods for Na Hoaloha ‘Ekolu group, which includes Old Lāhainā Lū‘au, Star Noodle, Aloha Mixed Plate and Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop. "We do some major volume every day," says Morita, who recently won an award for "Best Desserts." "Just at Old Lāhainā Lū‘au alone, we'll serve around 3,500 tarts a week. The challenge is for me to find a purveyor who will be able to meet the demand of some of the ingredients I want to use." 1251 Front St, Lahaina,

Chef Jojo Vasquez advocates using local ingredients whenever possible. (Courtesy Maui Brewing Company)

Culinary Tour de Force

Chalk it up as a major coup for Maui Brewing Company, which recently brought on award-winning chef Jojo Vasquez to its culinary team at the Kīhei brewery. Guests can now expect some serious food with their craft beer. Voted as 2017 Chef of the Year by his peers, Vasquez has been a tour de force in the Hawai‘i food scene for the past 13 years. His reputation as a proponent of sustainable, artisanal cuisine caught the attention of Maui Brewing Company, and the newfound partnership offers him an exciting opportunity to bring that sensibility to Maui’s blossoming gastropub scene.

“I do everything based on the integrity of the ingredients and an eclectic method that uses as much fiercely local, sustainable avenues as I have,” says Vaszquez in a news release. “I want to make sure people say ‘damn, I need to come back because I didn’t try the whole menu.”

Vazquez plans to utilize Maui Brewing Company signature brews in revamping the menu. He has already started experimenting with such brews as the Bikini Blonde Lager, using it to create a rich, savory broth for braised manila clams and lup cheong, punctuated with shiitake and kale furikake. Another one of his favorites is a seasonal bright, summery brew, which is a collaboration with Colorado-based Crooked Stave.  “The limited edition I love is called Two Tickets to Paradise and it's a tropical Saison with notes of hibiscus and lime,” Vazquez says. “It really highlights the citrus on the palate so for me thatʻs sashimi. I taste hamachi or beautiful kampachi or grilled kama with a little bit of calamansi and maybe some peppery arugula."  605 Lipoa Pkwy., 808.201.BEER,