• Rachele Viard

Simeon Hall: Eclectic Bahamian Chef Fuses Tropical and Polynesian Flavors

Updated: Feb 3

Bahamian native and cookbook author, Chef Simeon Hall, has been creating unique and savory culinary experiences for over 20 years. The self-proclaimed eclectic chef got his start in the kitchen working alongside his grandmothers. This ignited a passion that blossomed into a culinary journey which has propelled Chef Simeon as a true Bahamian Culinary Ambassador. It is therefore not surprising that Chef Simeon is a staunch supporter of farm to table’ and ‘sea to spoon’. Executive Chef of La Hiki in the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, Chef Simeon fuses his tropical culinary instincts with Polynesian flavors to provide menus that beckon to be experienced. Here’s our Candid conversation with the Bahamian ambassador about his career path in the culinary industry and what our inspires his creative dishes.

Photos by Scharad Lightborne

CE: What was your childhood like in the Bahamas?

CS: Amazing. Shaped by two grandmothers that were chefs, a Father that was an activist and minister and a mother that was one of the most savvy bankers in the country. She retired at the aged of 50. And although I dabbled in architecture and biology, food and beverage was always in my DNA and polarized my entire childhood. Made my first omelet, or in hindsight a fried egg, and made my first paycheck at the age of 7 making food and cleaning for my grandmother.

CE: What would you say are some of the perks, of growing up in the Caribbean?

CS: Well, first I guess one would have to define the similarities and differences of the Caribbean. We are alike but very different. The Caribbean isn't the homogeneous amalgamation that it is often branded as. Similarly, we are the gateway to the history of the era of colonialism. We are also the birthplace of the indigenous Taino and others that were amazing understated food creators. Separately, The Bahamas is regionally and island specific as it is one of the abundant archipelagic countries of the world. To that end our diversity, and cultural influences are vast and the backdrop of any true culinarian.

CE: Besides working alongside your grandmothers from an early age in the kitchen, what would you say inspired your love of cooking and led to your pursuing a career in the culinary arts?

CS: Well they were definitely the foundation, but my love for foraging around the islands, watching people respond to my cooking and generally feeding anyone willing to be experimented on were the building blocks.

CE: Did you attend culinary school, if so where?

CS: I attended the then school of hospitality in The Bahamas and also Horry Georgetown Technical College as an exchange student in a primer programme. I've done some development courses at the Culinary Institute of America, etc. since, but otherwise experience and learning from community elders has been my teacher.

CE: What are some inspirations you draw from to create new dishes?

CS: Bahamian History. Seasonal ingredients, foraging and frankly whatever I can find locally.

CE: What is a favorite comfort food of yours?

CS: Bahamian Fire Engine. BRIASED CORNED BEEF, WHITE RICE AND CORN. A Bahamian staple.

CE: What new food trends excite you?

CS: NONE!!!!. I do appreciate the movement back to foundational regional and cultural cuisines.

CE: Why title your cookbook ‘700 Recipes and Receipts’?

CS: Long story short. Recipes are dishes we are creating based on historical data etc. And receipts are the recipes that we have received over the years from family and community elders.

CE: How have you been able to infuse Hawaiian and Caribbean flavors as executive Chef of La Hiki in the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina?

CS: Wherever I am in the world I immerse myself in the culture through food. So it was a joy to learn and prepare the foods of the island s of Hawaii. So as a Black Bahamian Chef of a restaurant in Hawaii, my Caribbean flavorings accented a lot of what I did. Both intentionally and subconsciously.

CE: Creativity is key in the culinary world. In what ways have you been creative?

CS: By learning foundational cuisine. I've taught myself how to bend and often break the same rules that I've learned. That and the combination of working in some isolated islands and my background have made creativity second nature.

CE: How did your culinary journey take you to Hawaii?

CS: I've always been one to think with the end in mind. So I developed a very strong portfolio very early in my career. So when a good friend of mine recommended me I was able to qualify for the post.

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