Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons describes how hard it was to let Erika Davis go.

on Oct 21, 20100

Bravotv.com:  So this week we have Chef Laiskonis who is, you know, a big deal here in New York.
Gail Simmons: He's a very big deal. I’ve eaten his desserts many times before and I’ve worked with Eric Ripert for years on Top Chef, but we’ve never had a chance to work with Michael, who is a truly gifted pastry chef. He has a very different personality and style than some of the pastry chefs who have been on the show in previous episodes like Elizabeth, Sherry, or even Jacques. He almost has a closer aesthetic to Johnny in that his desserts are very focused on design. They need to match Eric’s food which is so concise, sophisticated, and subtle. He was unruffled the whole episode we spent with him. I actually think he had a lot of fun with us because I think he enjoyed the opportunity to sit back and laugh at the shenanigans in the kitchen. I hope he was impressed with what the chefs made.

Bravotv.com: Onto the Quickfire...
GS: I think that part of the challenge for pastry chefs using some savory ingredients is obviously that it is not what they work with every day, although they often incorporate certain savory ingredients like herbs for example. The problem for some of our pastry chefs is that they went too savory and started making full-on savory kitchen dishes, as opposed to a dessert that incorporates savory elements -- it still needed to be a dessert. Take Eric for example: He really made breakfast food, not a dessert with savory accents. On the other hand, Zac's beet cake was a great example of using elements from the savory kitchen in a really dessert-focused way. What I remember the most about that cake is that the flavor of beet was really strong. However, beets have an inherent sweetness to them so it made sense as a dessert, and you still got that cakey-ness, the cake was really moist. You also tasted the herbal flavor of the lemon thyme he used and the whole dish still felt very indulgent. The one-pot element was tough for anyone. It’s hard to do that in any kitchen, let alone the pastry kitchen with all the sticky, saucy, sugary textures they use. The time factor became really key here.

Bravo: On to the Elimination: What is difficult about a black and white dish? Usually, when you see a black and white dish that’s a bad thing because you want color on the plate, right?
GS: Righ,t but there are definitely a lot of iconic desserts that are black and/or white. They are certainly colors that exist in the pastry kitchen. I mean true, true black is hard of course, although not impossible. To bring it all back to another Top Chef, Angelo is very famous for a dessert he makes at Xie Xie. It's a play on the 1000-year-old egg, the Chinese dish, that's an ice cream sandwich. The color of the caramel in the center is black as night with this beautiful underlying gold hue. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it, and he is not a pastry chef. So it’s not impossible. We understood that we needed to not be too literal with our expectations and that there needed to be some sort of leeway of course. I love that the challenge made our chefs stop and think about how to not sacrifice flavor by sacrificing color.

It was a really great party and thankfully there were some really great successes, starting with Eric's Mississippi Mud Cake. I was so proud of him when we arrived at his table as he was totally "Eric the Pastry Chef," not just "Eric the Baker." He was plating and saucing, and doing all kinds of fun things with his dish. It had height, there were layers of texture, he had thought about the was we were supposed to eat it, and it looked beautiful.

31 comments
Lavar
Lavar

Glad I've finally found smeothing I agree with!

Bob 'n dessert
Bob 'n dessert

Heather's instant karma is her just desserts. Shame on her "team Loser" comment. Heather should look in the mirror and not at Morgan when pointing out personality flaws. Turning on Zak when under pressure revealed yet another unflattering aspect of Heather. Congratulations to Whisk Me Away and keep it up!

Alexa Kush
Alexa Kush

You know exactly what your talking about and i completly agree.

jusmyopinion
jusmyopinion

so Erika was sent home, this confirms why i dont like this show. you send a top performer home but keep someone whose been in the bottom three times.

Topchefer
Topchefer

Sheesh, why is everyone blaming Gail and the other judges for the personalities of the contestants. The judges aren't making the contestants come across as horses A@@es. They are doing that all on their own. The judges aren't in the kitchen when they are cooking, they aren't in the room when they do their little confessionals, they aren't in the house with them at night, and they aren't in the stew room when they are behaving like 6 year olds. IT"S NOT THEIR FAULT!!!. And, how can any of you say that anyone's dish was worse than Erica's. You didn't taste it. Everyone liked Erica, including me, but this is not a popularity contest.

Koko357
Koko357

I was happy when I heard the show was coming on Television. I understand the drama with House wives of this city and that city. But why make a Dessert show about drama? Most of us watch the show to learn and see great creations. I too think Erika being cut was foul. I won't be watching the drama anymore! I really think who ever had the vision of going in the direction of insane chefs needs a doctors. Wow The rest of the Chefs all have issues. U got rid of the only one that was there for the right reasons. PS: What kind of show promotes violence and threat on personal. (Morgan talking about how far he could throw someone) Ridiculous.

donna neptune
donna neptune

You made a big mistake sending Erika home. I do not know if I will watch the rest of the season, because as we see the judges do not know how to judge.

frecklesme
frecklesme

I am very dissappointed with TCJD. I thought it would be more like Top Chef but apparently the producers feel the need for drama rather than baking. During the first few shows we had to watch the breakdown of an obviously disturbed young man on TV. Then we watched as the other contestants spew snarky, rude remarks about each other. All the while the judges ignore contestants who don't follow the instructions of the challenge and keep contestants who produce less qualifying, amateur desserts. How long before Danielle goes home? This show is getting to be more like one of the Housewife shows than Top Chef. Out of fairness, I have given TCJD until the end of the season to work out the "bugs". If they can't...or won't, my husband and I won't be back for a 2nd season.

OliveAnne
OliveAnne

Thank you for explaining. This is a cooking competition - so if it tastes bad - you can go home. I wish that when someone didn't follow the rules they went home. I am so tired of the chefs on JD doing what they want and ignoring the rules. Not fair. Those that do try and not do well, end up going home. If the chef who ignored the rules had tried to make the dish it could have tasted very bad. Maybe that is why they ignored the rules. Send them home. OliveAnne FloridaFan

Jason B
Jason B

Didn't you watch the episode? Erica's ice cream was not right.

KellyJ
KellyJ

Gail,

The dress you wore at the LA Times gala was so cute!  It looked great on you.  And I loved the little animal print.  If you don't mind me asking, who made it or where did you get it from?

Thanks!

Kelly    

B.G.- G.B.
B.G.- G.B.

I " NEVER " ever post on such sites but I truly felt a disservice & injustice has been done this past episode. I agree 100 % with the above comments. Erica should have " NOT " been eliminated !! .She was clearly the better ( & ALWAYS ) has been the better chef. Where as the other lady has been consistently on the bottom.It should not be about the drama,...but the actual ability to produce outstanding dishes. I understand the network is in it to make money & ratings,....however you need to consider that by ( off-ing ) talented people that do not deserve to be eliminated BEFORE their time ,...will dilute the show's credibility substantially and by doing so ,..will at the same time alienate or distance the very same people you wish to watch your programs. Please be fair in your assessments,...Eliminating Erica was just plain WRONG !!!

FanFare56
FanFare56

Next week's "Pastry Wars" will probably have gawky Danielle wondering what she should do, then make something amateurish and somehow get to stay to play another day; while a better chef gets eliminated. At this point: Who cares? Not me.

Cirque
Cirque

Gail, I'm disappointed in the show and the judging. It has been inconsistent and nonsensical. You (meaning the collective show) kept Seth on far too long. He should have gone home in the first 2 weeks. You allowed a bullying, mentally ill person to hijack your show. Its one thing to have a healthy competition with some healthy disagreements but the allowance of his behavior was cruel to the other contestants.

I expected better from you because you are a smart, vibrant woman who knows her stuff. I usually respect your opinion even when I don't agree because of they judicious way you present it. Not this time. Erika should not have been let go for her ice cream when there were other people that had more egregious errors than hers. Poorly done. You don't need to manufacture drama. Good cooking with smart challenges is drama enough.

chertav
chertav

Please get rid of the divas; they are annoying

Sansglas
Sansglas

Where are your heads at? Sending Erika home instead of Danielle. Danielle is typically in the bottom, she whines consistently, and her desserts are in my opinion not that interesting. She made the comment in the stew room that she doesn't know how to make things for anyone else's palate but her own. This comment alone, should have sent her packing.

Mary Tuck
Mary Tuck

Erica was too nice to be on this show. They wanted drama and she is just one classy lady, a team player, an adult and hard worker. She doesn't complain and she does her share and more. Of course they let her go. No bitchy, whiny drama Queen. I agree, BIG Mistake.

Hot in Hampton
Hot in Hampton

Why wouldn't you look at the body of work up until the time of elimination for those on the chopping block -- you would have known who really should have gone home atthe black and white elimination - it would not have been Erika!

Boima King
Boima King

It seem TCJD has taken a page from the regular TC by eliminating Erica. I know this is not a popularity contest,however Erica has consistantly been one of the top performers and there are individuals still in the competition that have not only not performed at her standard ,but seem to be there only for dramatic effect. We appreciate that this is television but the judging is flirting with losing it's credibilty. If Bravo wishes to have the public take the judging seriously,the elimination should be based on the particular challenge and the total body of work, not one challenge,it delegitimises the overall competition.Maybe points can be assigned to every challenge and at the end of each episode the lowest combined score is eliminated.This will guaranteed the top chef will be the best overall chef,not merely someone that survived by not being the very worst in a particular challenge. I am not sure if market testers have determined that eliminating a popular contestant early makes the views more emotionally invested in the show or not, but you need to be careful as these individuals have tended to be African Americans.Not accusing the show of anything but highlighting a fact that I have noticed.Hopefully that was not an excuse for the mediorce choice on TC last season. Also, any chef can have a bad night,the criteria for elimination should be changed or find that the champions will be met with derision. Congrats on the Emmy, now move on and evolve.

mmk
mmk

I agree ... I loved Erika ... way too soon in the competition.

Amy Reynolds
Amy Reynolds

Absolutely hated to see Erika go! So talented and such a lady:)

Viewer no more
Viewer no more

Big mistake sending Erica home. I can't believe that her dish was inferior to the ugly joke of a dish presented by Danielle. Something more to this. We probably will never know the truth.

Viewer TS
Viewer TS

I completely respect your opinion Gail,but you have to understand as a viewer this decision was a head scratcher-of all the elliminations thus far this is one where we just went..."what?" It's the thing that is most infuriating about Top Chef in general-it's the one thing you did wrong,not your history of "wins"-as Erika had shown,she was one of the best chefs left.Disappointing.

PortlandViewer
PortlandViewer

I've always been a TC fan, but I am surprised to love this spinoff also, perhaps even more than the original! I was sorry to see Erika go, but I'm ultra-impressed by anyone who even makes it on the show; hopefully the exposure will only be good for her career.

I'm not sure where to post this, but I have an idea for a challenge. My daughter is both gluten and egg-intolerant. I am challenged daily to make all kinds of food for her, including desserts. It is really hard to get good dessert flavors without wheat flour or eggs. There are a lot of celiac people, and GF cookbooks aren't typically very strong on pastry. Maybe it'd be unfair in the game, but I'd love to see what TCJD pastry chefs would create.

Just a thought. Thanks for the fun and inspiring show!

lalique17
lalique17

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Not Erika :( I was rooting for her to make it to the top 3...along with Zac and Yigit...maybe Eric because he's an underdog :) *Sigh. I feel a bit like I did when Kenny from Top Chef left. Love Zac and hope he makes it to the end.

JLM1364
JLM1364

Erika going was a huge mistake on the judges part. I just read your blog and understand that you say it is unanimous and that her dish was the weakest; however, after watching the show, I believe that "1 2 8" was not only the weakest in the theme of the show that night, but such a cop out to what was challenged to the chefs. This lady has been in the bottom ALOT and consistently for not exploring things outside of what she wants to do and knows. Erika has CONSISTENTLY been in the top and even though she 'had a bad day', her performance should have been looked at instead. If THAT was part of the judging then " 1 2 8 " would have been eliminated. I believe you have sent home a chef that not only deserved to be still on the show, but who might have actually had the ability and creativity to win. I am considering giving up on being a viewer of this show since the Judging is what seems to be inconsistent, not the chefs.

SA
SA

Erika going was a huge mistake on the judges part. I just read your blog and understand that you say it is unanimous and that her dish was the weakest; however, after watching the show, I believe that "1 2 8" was not only the weakest in the theme of the show that night, but such a cop out to what was challenged to the chefs. This lady has been in the bottom ALOT and consistently for not exploring things outside of what she wants to do and knows. Erika has CONSISTENTLY been in the top and even though she 'had a bad day', her performance should have been looked at instead. If THAT was part of the judging then " 1 2 8 " would have been eliminated. I believe you have sent home a chef that not only deserved to be still on the show, but who might have actually had the ability and creativity to win. I am considering giving up on being a viewer of this show since the Judging is what seems to be inconsistent, not the chefs.

Big Fan really UPSET
Big Fan really UPSET

I do not think it was fair that Danielle got ANOTHER CHANCE. I think it's just that simple. Ericka was great, and I loved her as a competitor. She had a great attitude about each and every challenge and this was a mighty blow she was served, ESPECIALLY when you consider Danielle has been given opportunity after opportunity. Ericka deserves to be there, and I think she was trully robbed. I hope to see Ericka bigger & brighter elsewhere...she definately did not get her JUST DESSETS here.

Independent
Independent

Erika should not have gone home. Big mistake.