Gail Simmons

Gail offers her perspective on David and Neal's working relationship.

on Sep 10, 2013 What did you think about Jen's return?
Gail Simmons: I thought it was great. It was a tough battle. Jen and Sue are both really strong chefs. I love them both, and I was proud of them both. They were both great contestants, great players in the game. But that day, Jennifer just did a little bit more, and her dish was just a little bit better. It was really 50-50 going in. I had no idea who would win, and I would have been happy either way. Jenn really did work hard to get there, so I was thrilled to see her back. Ali Larter! Nachos!
GS: That challenge was hilarious and actually very creative. The chefs did a great job. David Burke clearly had some issues.  I love nachos, but I don't eat them very often. I loved that Ali Larter was part of it. She's adorable. She just wrote a cookbook, which is cool too. On to the Elimination Challenge at Duke's in Malibu. What was it like meeting Gidget?
GS: I loved meeting Gidget, and we loved being out in Malibu, a great little road trip, out of central L.A.. It was a beautiful day. And, I think it was a just fun challenge to get the chefs out of their usual kitchen. Duke's was really cool -- it's got a lot of history, and Gidget obviously played a major role. She was awesome! I loved that they got their fish fresh off the truck, having just been caught, as it should be. Some of the teams definitely had more challenging issues than others.

Doug seemed to have luck on his side this episode. He won immunity, he got the first knife pull, and had his pick of fish. He did really well. Let's break down each person's dynamic. Doug worked with Jenn, and he said he's not used to playing second fiddle, but he really wanted Jenn to lead where the dish was going.
GS: When you're the chef, you're the boss. I don't think any of them are good at playing second fiddle. They all have their egos. They're all used to being in control. Letting someone else have control is a very hard thing for any chef to do, and Doug certainly is no exception. But, I was really glad to see that he had the insight in this situation to do that for Jennifer. It was the right thing to do. He was a gentleman about it, putting aside his ego -- still guiding, still working, helping, and contributing to the team -- and clearly that's what it was. Even though he said he stood back, that was still clearly a Douglas dish in a lot of ways -- it was Asian and the plating was in his style.

But he let Jennifer be in control in many ways. She had a say, which is really important. She had so much more to lose than he did. I remember thinking their dish was one of the most beautiful dishes I'd eaten all season. It had so much flavor. I love that they made it one, cohesive dish eaten from top to bottom, hot and cold in one plate. The broth was fantastic; Douglas really knows how to make his broths. The plum was a beautiful touch. It was a little bit sweet, a little bit sour, and really fresh. It gave a nice little crunch. This was a dish that would be a huge success on either of their restaurants' menus, considering how little time I had to create it.