Gail Simmons

The critic names her picks for top and bottom dish.

on Aug 8, 2013 First, was the "scraps" Quickfire.
Gail Simmons: I don't have much to say about the Quickfire. It seemed like a really smart idea, having to cook from scraps. It was impressive that the chefs were able to scrape meat off of bones to create dishes at all. TV: So, elimination. Are you a soap opera fan?
GS: I'm not, I'm the opposite of a soap opera fan. I'm a sci-fi girl. I never watched soap operas growing up. Star Trek was my soap opera. And Quantum Leap. But a lot of my girlfriends watched Days of Our Lives. They would tape it on VHS everyday when we were at school. And even my college roommates watched Days of Our Lives. I did watch Dallas. That kind of counts, right? Just learning the history of a show that's made 12,000 episodes over so many years was incredible. We've made I don't know how many episodes -- if you combine Top Chef, 'Top Chef Masters, and Top Chef Just Desserts -- well over 200, but nothing like 12,000. That's just enormous, it's extraordinary. The actors were just game for anything. I guess you have to be ready for twists and turns when you're a soap opera star; you come into work everyday and you never know what's going to happen to your job and to your character, that's what it's like in the kitchen. They told us all about the adventures of their characters -- they've had a baby-snatching, the marriages, coming back to life -- it was awesome. And I love that the challenge incorporated all of those things with the chefs -- the coma, going to jail, and murder. As well as dishes with them themes of murder, sex, and greed.... TV: It was hilarious. Let's start with Murder, which was Odette, Sang, and Jen. Jen won ultimately, and Odette actually found herself on the bottom which I think people were surprised by.
GS: Here's the tricky part: remember that the cast of Days of Our Lives picked the top and the bottom dishes that day. We, the judges, only voted off one of the bottom after they were chosen, which is quite unusual. As judges, we don't just judge on what our favorite is in a given day, like the cast might have. We judge on what we think was the best dish in all of its merits, including technical skill, doneness of the protein, proper knife skills, overall presentation, which is much more than if I personally liked the dish or not. I think everyone at Critics' Table understood the creation of Odette's dish takes more skill than the cast probably knew. There were some seasoning issues, for sure. It was a little bland. Also keep in mind, we were not judging it against all of the other dishes in the day, we were only judging it within a category of three dishes, and out of the three murder dishes, hers probably was the least successful. Jen's was really excellent, obviously, she won. TV: There was Sang's, and he didn't actually plate everything.
GS: Right, but we didn't know that, so it doesn't matter.