Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons makes the case for canned food.

on Jan 15, 2009

Editor's Note: Gail couldn't get to a computer this week, so we had the pleasure to speak to her on the phone and get her take on this week's episode. Let's dive right in. We start with the pantry raid Quickfire and Hung comes back. The chefs didn't seem too excited about working with these ingredients, did they?
They're never going to be too psyched about cooking with canned food, although I do think that certain canned foods and staples like that are great for the home cook and to have in your pantry for certain occasions. You don't want your entire diet to come from the cupboard and some chefs turn their noses on it, which is also why I thought it was perfect that Hung was the guest judge. Of all people, if he had been a contestant on this challenge, I'm sure he would have been one of the people complaining the most. On the other hand, I thought it was great that they only got 15 minutes. It seems that with the exception of a few people, like Jamie, who seemed to not put a lot of effort with this one, people made some pretty complex things considering what they were given. I thought that was great. They were creative and they were thinking on their feet. What do you think the key was to doing well with this challenge?
Giving the food flavor. Seasoning. With canned food, especially canned vegetables like artichokes or beans, the food often takes on the flavor of the can because it's been sitting in there and it ends up tasting far from fresh. I would say the key is making something that tasted as it was supposed to taste when fresh and seasoning it really well. That would just be the first thing I would do, at the minimum. From that point on, just being creative and incorporating the food in a way that makes sense. Not stretching it too far so that it's completely absurd or using it in a way you would never use it. Then it's just not going to taste very good. Are you a fan of the Spam?

I'm not a fan of the Spam. I don't think I've ever actually eaten it before. Although I remember many years ago my father going on some sort of really low carb diet. My father is in extraordinary physical condition and he has weighed the exact same amount since he married my mother 42 years ago. He looks after his health and he's very disciplined about what he eats and he went on this low carb diet and all of a sudden he was eating six pork sausages for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He went out to the grocery store to get my mother some things and he came back with a tin of Spam because my mother would have never allowed that in our house growing up and he got curious. He thought because he was on this all protein diet that he should give it a shot, so he gave it a try and I thought my mom was going to literally throw him out of the house.