Chef / Farmer James (Kimo) Simpliciano Farm-to-Plate advocate James has come full-circle in fostering the art of farming for culinary use the freshest sourced locally- grown fruits and vegetables. Through his Simpli-fresh Produce, LLC;West Maui Cooperative venture, Kimo has crossed the culinary crossroad to becoming a full-time farmer. While farming, he takes initiative to mentor students who aspire to be future farmers, talented chefs, and environmental engineers from Lahainaluna High School, Kamehameha Schools Maui, UH Maui College, and Hui Lau Foundation. With a Culinary Arts degree in hand and a growing reputation in Maui’s fine dining, Kimo had progressively been devoting more and more of his time to the earthier, on-the-ground job of actually producing local food crops.
The food revolution began in 2007, when he was volunteering his time with a youth at- risk program called; Alternative Learning Center (ALC) at Lahainaluna High School, Simpliciano says. He has since become an advocate and ambassador for the enrichment program. Growing up farming or gardening on Oahu with his extended family, he now cultivates crops on more than 75 acres, including acreage on private estate homes from Lahaina to Kaanapali to Napili to Kapalua. As part of his volunteering at Lahaina luna ALC program, he created; Culinary Tasty Tuesday working with the students to create a weekly menu and to help raise funds for their classroom farm. Kimo wanted to share his knowledge about good fresh home-cooked meals.
As a lead Banquet Chef at The Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Kimo not only enjoyed crafting specialized menus and preparing meals for employees and guests from all walks of life, but also devoted his time towards growing healthy, nutritious organic fruits and vegetables, wherever possible, while trying to maintain and sustain the localvore ideal;buying local produce and growing community gardens.
Inspired by a great Oahu Mao Organic Farm, he truly believes every community should have more outlets like these for the youth, keeping them fit, as well as providing one component for addressing childhood obesity problems.In addition, he was also a Chef for Kupu Maui, catering specifically for private events. Kimo has been given the opportunity to farm on private land and receives assistance from friends, who in return, get to plant and sell vegetables. He has test-planted seeds from his father and heirloom organic seed companies.
The Simpli-fresh produce business is growing and the demand for local produce is on the rise ;From citrus to root vegetables, he has been able to grow, forage and sell; But his adventure comes with continuing challenges; Since I do not spray unless organic OMRI certified, I’m having trouble with pests. His plans are to take classes to get organic food safety certified. Although I have faced some challenges, I have received great support in this mission from local restaurants like Honu, Mala, Hula Grill, I ;o, Merriman, Pineapple Grill and Humuhumunukunukuapua’.
In joining this cook-out gathering today, he has prepared a dish as a special dedication to his grandfather, Concordio Simpliciano, a 2nd wave Sakada. At the age of 25, Grandpa Concordio and his cousin, Andres Simpliciano arrived in Hawaii to work in the sugarcane plantation in the early 20s, during WWI. Grandpa Concordio worked in the Ewa Beach sugar plantation, and cousin Andres, worked in Paia, Maui. Both were married but left their families back in the Philippines. They were finally reunited with their wives and children in 1941. Simpliciano’s many trials as well as successes in life, as a chef and a farmer, have been heavily influenced by the dedication, deep cultural values, and the many sacrifices in which Grandpa Corcodio and his cousin Andres have endured while working in the sugarcane industry, not only to financially provide for their families, but most importantly, to help develop, strengthen, and flourish Hawaii’s economy.
Without the Sakadas, none of us would be here today.As Simpliciano prepared his dish, he stated, Cooking food is not only about satisfying ones hunger, but its about appreciating, being passionate, and honoring our traditional values, deep culture, humble beginnings, but most of all, honoring our most-respected ancestors, our own breathing identities, as Filipinos; Thus, he humbly dedicates this special dish to his Grand Parents. Grandpa Concordio and Grandpa Andres, along with the rest of the Sakadas and their families.
Today, we are here to honor each and everyone of you, for you represent the bold, but rich flavors of his dish, as it encompasses the many values, commitment, and the many good deeds that you continue to possess and deliver to others in this beautiful and serene place in which we call our home, Hawaii. So, please enjoy and Mabuhay! Agbiag ti Filipino!! If you are actively working within the fruit and vegetable industry in the capacity of Farmer/Producer/Grower/ShipperWholesaler/Distributer/Broker/Processor Retail (including farmers markets, CSAs, food hubs)/Restaurant Food service suppliers, State agencies involved in organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables at local, regional and national levels- State departments of agriculture leadership, fruit and vegetable industry trade associations, we honor and express our gratitude as we join you in making Maui forever fresh.