“I want to show them how much I’ve grown.” That was the intention behind Sheldon Simeon’s choice of quail as an entrée on this week’s Top Chef finale (part one). The Hawaiian-based chef didn’t want the judges to think he was all Asian cuisine (mostly Filipino and Polynesian) the way other Top Chef contestants have been typecast as all bacon or all foam. Problem is, the judges loved Sheldon’s Pacific cooking style with all its bright flavors—most Americans aren’t as familiar with Filipino cuisine as they are with, say, Thai, Indian, or Vietnamese. And they wanted more! (“We liked the old Sheldon,” pleaded judge Hugh Acheson.)

But the ukulele-strumming zen chef says he’s got “no regrets” even if the elimination, so close to the end, “was definitely brutal.” Read the rest of my Top Chef roundup at

(Not mentioned in my writeup is Sheldon’s love for lemon olive oil. If you can find it, try it with soy sauce in your stir fry. He even loves it with his sashimi. “It’s so creamy,” he raves.)

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