Gail Simmons

Top Chef judge Gail Simmons dishes on her 'Masters' experience.

on Jul 8, 2009

How is it judging Master’s rather than regular Top Chef?

Judging Masters is super fun, especially because obviously I know a lot of the chefs. Many of them have been guests on our show before as guest judges. It was really exciting to see them cook and of course, really exciting to eat their food. It was also very interesting because I don’t know what they thought it would be like, but it was interesting to see how hard it was, even for the Masters. I think they overall did an extraordinary job over the course of the whole season. I think it showed all of them, and us, that what our regular top chefs do everyday is not easy on the show at all, no matter how good you are. You can be a master in your own kitchen, but when you’re thrown into a kitchen you’ve never been in before, with time constraints, and you don’t have your sous-chefs with you, you don’t have your menu plotted out and you don’t have time to think, it’s really difficult. And we kept them on their toes, but it was really exciting and overall, I think, really successful.

For this challenge we had Mark Peel, Doug Rodriguez, John Besh and Anita Lo and their quick-fire challenge was to cook an egg with one hand tied behind their back. The whole basis was “cooking an egg is a true sign of a chef’s ability.” Would you agree with that comment?

I do agree with that. It’s sort of legendary when a chef would audition young cooks for jobs on their line, they would ask them to cook an omelet, because it’s a lot harder and it takes a lot more finesse than your regular diner omelet. Cooking an egg and cooking it properly and making sure it has flavor and the proper texture, not overcooked or undercooked, is a very difficult thing. And now doing it with one hand tied behind your back is an extraordinarily difficult thing. So it was really fun. I felt for them. That is a really difficult thing to do, but they managed to do it. Three of the four of them managed to do it and do it relatively well.