Celebrity Judges

Chef Sheldon Simeon was born in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. A graduate of the Maui Culinary Academy, Chef Sheldon has competed on Bravo’s hit tv show Top Chef, winning Fan Favorite in both seasons he competed.

Chef Sheldon opened two restaurants: Tin Roof and Lineage, which was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant” in 2019. Chef also took over Tiffany’s in Maui – a mainstay restaurant on the island, as well as authored the cookbook Cook Real Hawai’i, and is a James Beard Award Finalist for Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific for 2022 and a semifinalist for 2023 & 2024.

We are incredibly honored to have Chef Sheldon Simeon at this year’s Poke Fest.

The Poke Fest started on Kaua’i in 2019 with the goal of giving back to the local community. Every year, we have donated proceeds from the festival to local charities to support Kaua’i and the residents of our special island. With that same local focus in mind, we’re beyond honored to have in attendance this year Nick and Nate Herbig of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Herbig brothers are originally from Kaua’i and starred at Saint Louis High School. Nick just finished his rookie season as an outside linebacker while Nate completed his fifth season in the NFL as an offensive guard.

In the same spirit of giving that started the Poke Fest, the Herbig brothers created a community give back program called “Herbie Gives”, which provides education and opportunities to the youth of Hawaii. Their inaugural youth football camp was held in February on Kaua’i.

Kumu Leināʻala Pavao Jardin was born and raised in Kalāheo on the Garden Isle of Kaua’i. She began her life-long hula journey at the age of three which ultimately lead her to open Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leināʻala in 1996 with the mission to instill the many facets of hula that will allow the school’s over 200 students to perpetuate this most sacred art at a high level of excellence.

Kumu literally translates in Hawaiian to the base of something, or more commonly the meaning is similar to foundation or teacher. Kumu Leināʻala is both a teacher and the foundation of the art of hula in Kaua’i. She is highly active in the local community and tirelessly and selflessly gives her time to her students. We are honored to have her on our panel of judges for this year’s Poke Fest.