Longtime talent manager shares his ideal day.
He was responsible for a publicity stunt that halted traffic in Picadilly Circus in London. He is considered by many as the inventor of the “celebrity chef.” And at this year’s Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, Shep Gordon will be honored for his contributions to the Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine movement.
What was your role in the formation of the Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine movement?
During the early ’90s, I used to get together with chefs like Sam Choy, Mark Ellman and Peter Merriman, and they used to come to my house to cook. It was uncomfortable because they knew that I was managing other chefs but they never asked me to represent them. I suggested starting a movement and everybody was totally into it. So we did.
Many consider you as the inventor of the “celebrity chef” status?
I like to think that I’m the “exposer” of the celebrity chef. Long before the term even existed, I knew that chefs would be the stars of tomorrow. But they weren’t being recognized—nor paid—like other artists.
How different is it managing rock stars and celebrity chefs?
It’s not really all that different. As an artist manager, I want to create demand for my clients; whether it’s for a concert or a restaurant.
How do you feel about being honored at the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival?
It’s humbling and exciting. When I first came to Maui, the dining scene was pretty bleak. And now it’s thriving and continuing to get better.