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The Daily Dish Food and Drinks

Sheldon Simeon Was on a Totally Different Career Path Before Becoming a Chef

Surprise! The #TopChef cheftestant took mechanical drawing in high school.

By Maggie Shi
Here's Why Top Chef's Sheldon Simeon Started Cooking

For two seasons of Top Chef, we've watched perennial favorite Sheldon Simeon cook his heart out. His food was consistently full of soul and rich with the flavors of his Hawaiian-Filipino heritage, winning over the judges in challenge after challenge. He also won viewers over with his sincerity and positive attitude, earning him this season's Fan Favorite honors. So just how did this humble kid from Hilo, Hawaii end up becoming a culinary superstar?

Unsurprisingly, a passion for cooking runs in Sheldon's family. Both his parents were "amazing" cooks, and his was the go-to family to cook for every celebration and gathering. But it was a family crisis that initially got him into the kitchen. "My mom had a stroke and she had open-heart surgery so she couldn't work, so my dad worked two jobs and he was always away," Sheldon explained. "So me and my brother learned to cook, and cooked dinner and all of that to feed ourselves."

Although he grew up in the kitchen, Sheldon—who now owns Tin Roof in Maui and plans to open a second restaurant at the end of the year—initially had a different career picked out.

Repost @knowwl4n TinRoof becomes a classroom late at night #tinroofmaui

A post shared by Sheldon Simeon (@chefwonder) on

"In high school I wanted to be an architect," he revealed. "So I took advanced math and mechanical drawing and all of that." But once Sheldon saw his older brother—who was already a skilled cook, thanks to their upbringing—"cruise" through culinary school, he changed his mind.

"I was like, forget going to a four-year college, I'm gonna go to culinary school so I can cruise and body board and chill," he said. "But once I went into culinary school, I loved every single aspect of it."

And that was when he decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life cooking. Lucky us.

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