Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons sheds lights on the greater significance of the Ellis Island challenge.  

on Mar 2, 2011

Bravotv.com: And what about Richard at Judges' Table?
GS: It looked like he was about to pass out. He literally was about to say, "How could you do that to me?" You could tell he was barely holding on, the poor guy. He needs a Xanax and a two-hour massage!

There were two things I noticed across all of the chefs' dishes. First off, every single one of them did some sort of braised meat. Mike did the braised pork, Antonia did the braised veal, Carla did braised pork shoulder, Tiffany did short ribs, and also Richard did short ribs. It begs the question why? I think there is a security and hominess to this type of cooking which offered them all comfort. When you think of your heritage and the way your ancestors cooked, this was a very typical way to prepare and preserve food. It also gives the dish soul, by braising you have the ability of infusing a lot of flavor, sauce, softness, spices, and powerful complexity. It's a very flexible way to cook too, because it's forgiving, and it adds rusticity to because it's an older way of cooking. It's not like cooking sous-vide, or searing, or frying, it's just old school. Secondly, I loved the familial touches they put into their dishes, like Carla passing her biscuits around the table and the way they all presented their dishes. You could tell they were really touched by the challenge. It made them all think about food in a way that they aren't used to doing. It became very personal. I found myself quite affected by it as well, because that's what food does. When it's cooked for the right reasons and you cook with love and dedication, it really does stir people's emotions. It's all about sense memory.

We were really happy that Antonia won and we were thrilled that, after much begging and pleading with our producers, we were able to convince them to let us bring all five of them to the Bahamas with us. At first when Antonia's mother asked if we could bring five chefs we laughed it off, but when we sat down at that Judges' Table, we realized they all were really deserving.

But rest assured, the Bahamas is where the madness ensues. As you can see in the preview, there's good food and bad food, there's bad hair, there are fires, there's drama – basically everything you could ask for from a finale and more... but only one of them will make it to the very end. That I can promise.