Gail Simmons

Gail prasies most of this week's dishes and discusses what she really looks for in a perfect bite of food.

on Jan 22 Nick and Carlos then moved onto the Tom Challenge.
GS: This was tricky, and I sort of agree with Nick that Carlos made a soup -- and soup really is just roasting and pureeing and seasoning, which is less complicated than what Nick tried to do. But Carlos won the challenge. Just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's not as good. I'm happy to eat the simplest of food if it's made really well and made thoughtfully. That's why Carlos won. His soup really did have a lot of flavor. It was seasoned well, it had heat, it had balance with from the shallots, basil, and onions. There was an herbaciousness. There was a bit of licorice-ness to it that the fennel brought.

Nick's roasted eggplant was a lovely idea. It was cooked well, it was creative. I think we all found it a little under seasoned, as we sometimes do with Nick's food. This was just not as fully developed an idea. He talked about cutting the eggplant into scallops, but I don’t really know what that has to do with anything. There's a bit of a disconnect between the reasoning behind the cooking and how he executed it. He was trying to be too refined I think, and the flavor and the actual heartiness of the eggplant were lost a little bit.

Overall in this Quickfire, I was really impressed with how quick on their feet the chefs all were. This was their last Quickfire and now they're all pretty seasoned at doing Quickfires. There were no bad dishes at all. At this point in the competition, as we see in the Elimination Challenge in this episode, it all comes down to who is the best of the dishes, as opposed to who is the worst. There were no major flaws; there was nothing that I wouldn't be happy to eat again. So let's talk about the Elimination Challenge, the challenge was to create a dish inspired by this time in New Orleans, and it's a very intimidating panel.
GS: It's sort of similar to the episode before when we asked the chefs to create a dish inspired by the moment that they found their own voice. It was emotional cooking -- which can be very abstract and difficult to parlay into actual food people want to eat. Doing something about New Orleans and their time spent there we thought was fitting. We wanted to end at Emeril's. It felt like the right thing to do. Throughout the whole Season, Emeril was such an incredible tour guide and ambassador to the city. He had such an amazing story of coming to New Orleans and Commander's Palace and really making it the restaurant city it is today. His restaurant is so extraordinary. I ate there for the first time the same night that the chefs were there. After they left, I went with my husband and had pretty much the same meal at the same table, and I'm so glad I did because it helped me to understand even more what we were eating the next day. I could understand Emeril's point of view and Emeril's take on New Orleans. His food is very modern, but it all has a story. It all has inspiration from this city. He's drawn on so many different moments from his life to create the menu at the restaurant and that's what's incredible about it. That's exactly what we wanted the chefs to do.