The Eat Sheet: 'Top Chef' Judge Gail Simmons Takes THR’s Taste Test

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Gail Simmons

The freshly minted author talks beef jerky, black beans and Asador Etxebarri in Northern Spain’s Basque countryside.

Gail Simmons, the Top Chef judge and Toronto native who got her start working for Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud and Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, has just released a memoir, Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater ($26.99, Hyperion). She charts her Canadian upbringing and career climb from culinary school to TV star.

For dessert, she dishes about Top Chef deliberations. Simmons on Season 2 fan favorite Sam Talbot’s dismissal: “Sam tells me people still approach him all the time insisting he was robbed. I admit he’s talented, but neither of his dishes for that elimination employed actual cooking.” In addition, Simmons provides an appendix of recipes entitled “My Life in One Day of Meals” (Welsh rarebit is served for brunch).


Current Fixation
“Beef jerky. But the good stuff—handmade, organic. SlantShack is my current favorite. Also, Jeni’s Ice Cream—chocolate peppermint, black coffee or salty caramel. But I love all their flavors. I gave this ice cream to all my friends for the holidays!”

Destination Dinner
Asador Etxebarri, in Northern Spain’s Basque countryside.”

Go-To Take-Out
Dirty Bird in N.Y.C. and Jitlada in L.A.”

Adventurous Bite
“Deep fried larvae.”

Simply Won’t Eat
“Black beans. It’s a long story. Oh, and pickled ginger.”

Favorite Snack
“Salt and vinegar chips. Or full sour dill pickles. Or chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies.”

Dietary Regimen
“Poached eggs and sautéed greens or oatmeal and berries for breakfast, with coffee. Big crunchy salad for lunch. Anything my heart desires for dinner. Gym, spin class, hike. Repeat.”

Preferred Company
“My husband. And anyone else who’s up for the adventure.”

Pet Peeve
“Impossibly cold butter served with my bread.”

Big Wish
“Authentic, affordable Greek and/or Thai food, within walking distance, of my New York City apartment.”

Embarrassing Experience
“Does falling asleep at Judges’ Table on Top Chef count?”

Guilty Pleasure
“Spicy buffalo chicken wings and butterscotch pudding. Not together.”

Last Meal
“Sea urchin pasta with chili, a charcoal-grilled bone-in Rib eye, onion rings and a big bowl of mint-chocolate chip ice cream for dessert.”



1)    Beer-can chicken at A-Frame

2)    “I Am Fortified” at Café Gratitude

3)    Piping-hot ramen noodles at Daikokuya

4)    Burger at Father’s Office (I prefer the Culver City location)

5)    Kale salad at Gjelina

6)    Macarons at Bottega Louie