Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons explains why Jeffrey's crime against protein was worse.

on Nov 15, 2012  OK, so on to the Elimination Challenge. Well first, you were saying the three returning chefs kind of changed a lot. What were the things you noticed since the first time you saw them?
GS: Josie was on Season 2; that was SIX YEARS AGO. Everyone changes. I’ve changed a lot in six years. She’s calmer, more confident; she’s just developed her own style. That’s what happens as the years go on. You work harder, you learn about yourself, you have different experiences that shape who you are as a cook, and I think she’s just really found her place. When we met her in Season 2 she was cooking at Marlow & Sons in New York, I believe, which is a great restaurant, but she has since found what her passion really is, which is globally influenced comfort food. She comes back to it again and again throughout the season.

CJ has grown enormously. I was always a CJ fan. I always thought he was a strong cook, but again, Season 3 was five years ago, and he’s had a lot of experience since then; he’s done a lot of hard work. He went to Copenhagen, and was really inspired by cooking at Noma there. He’s become so much stronger. I believe the CJ from Season 3 and the Josie from Season 2 could not have competed so well with the chefs in this season, at this level. Not that they couldn’t have competed; I should say that they just would have had a much harder time, they were less experienced, but we all were I guess...

Stefan has changed too. Whenever he was in front of the judges this season, he actually was a lot calmer, more direct, less arrogant to us. That’s not to say he wasn’t arrogant. But he was a little more thoughtful, a little more introspective about who he is as a chef, what he expected from himself. He wasn’t just saying how great he was, he knew he had to put something behind it. He’s always been a good cook, there’s no question that he’s talented.  But…well, you’ll see... What was it like judging at the Space Needle?
GS: It was a very foggy day, unfortunately. But it was great that we were rotating, and having Ambassador/Chef Tom Douglas with us allowed us a great tour of the city from above. By the time we got up, I felt like I knew the landscape of Seattle really well. I could point at landmarks, and Tom [Douglas] took us through all the major neighborhoods and pointing them out. Seattle is really a beautiful city, filled with water ways and lakes, obviously mountains; it’s very, very green. It was a great place to start the season, because it gave us a great sense of place.