Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons spills the spicy New Orleans scoop.

on Feb 18, 2009

The finalists come down to New Orleans. Tell us a little bit about the city.

New Orleans totally exceeded my expectations. The city looks great and there's still clearly devestation that I was prepared for, but it was beautiful and the people were so incredibly gracious. It was so fun to be there because the food is so unlike any place I've ever been. It's so unique to the little corner of the world and different from anywhere at all. It made it the perfect place for the finale, especially this finale because the cast is so diverse. I think that really added it's own element. For me, the best part was getting to do some exploring, eat at some really great restaurants, and get to understand the flavor and food from the source and then eat the chefs' versions. It was a great comparison. So beautiful and so much fun. We had a blast.

For the quickfire an eliminated chef had the opportunity to come back. What did you think about that twist?

I think that Jeff did the best and he got it. I think all 3 of them were excellent. I've also said any of them could have been in the final four. These were the top contestants across the board. They were all consistant, they were all talented, and they will all have successful careers. They all bring something different. At the end of the day it became who was the most focused because it was thrown at them at the last minute. They had no idea what they were in for. I'm sure they didn't even do that much studying up on New Orleans cuisine because they might have thought they would be following someone else's directions. I think that Jeff obviously knew the most, he spent time in the South and he understood the food. Leah and Jamie didn't. He wanted to redeem himself so badly and I think he carried some resentment because of the way he left the show. He took a chance and he went for it. It was great to see.