One thing I really pride myself on is my ability to learn new things. I’ve taught myself how to rock climb, be a card shark and even how to never lose at Mario Kart. However, the one thing I really cannot seem to master is cooking. My college roommates can attest that I set off the smoke alarm more than I actually had a completed meal. My husband will tell you that boiling water is a massive challenge for me (don’t ask me how I keep messing up hard-boiled eggs, it’s a mystery). Despite all of that, I cannot get enough “Top Chef” in my life.
For some reason, I’m addicted to watching people much more talented than I am cook up delicious looking meals that I will never be able to taste. So, when the newest season started this past week, I was ready to sit down and pick my favorite contestants. During the premiere, we are introduced to the chefs and given a brief history of their cooking journey. This is where I first heard Chef Sheldon Simeon’s inspiring story.
Chef Simeon was born and raised in Hawaii, where I imagine he was introduced to the world of island cooking. He attended Maui Community College’s culinary program and started his restaurant career as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. Chef Simeon’s passion and love for cooking quickly moved him up the ranks of that same restaurant to the chef position. He was able to impress the owners so much, that they trusted him to open up two of their sister restaurants. He mastered his craft so well, that he has been nominated for two James Beard awards in 2011: Rising Star Chef of the Year and Best New Restaurant, as well as Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef People’s Choice”.
Chef Simeon beat out a high number of competitors for a highly coveted spot in this season’s “Top Chef: Seattle“.
So, what can learn from the ambitious chef?
1) When you find what you love, stick with it - Becoming one of the best in your field is not easy, no matter what path you choose to take. If you’re lucky enough to find an industry you’re passionate about, you need to make sure you learn as much as you can and take advantage of the door that has been opened for you.
2) Loyalty can take you far - Chef Simeon probably could have easily switched restaurants in his career. Everyone has days at work where they think, “I’m ready to move on,” but, this restaurant gave him his first chance and that’s something he never forgot. Having a powerful reference can take you far, and being at a place where you’ve planted deep roots can give you the time and resources to really become a leader in your field.
3) Working your way up can take you pretty high - Starting at the bottom can be really frustrating, especially if you have your sights on a particularly high position. Having the patience to reach that milestone won’t always be easy but it will be worth it. You need to remember what you are working for and that if you work hard enough and make the best impression you can make, you will get there.
I think you can guess who my favorite contestant is this season. Who is yours?