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

So that was part one: create a dish that really told us what you've learned on the journey in New Orleans since you've arrived, which at this point was a while ago. They'd all come so far and cooked so much incredible food. I know they'd all changed and grown in many ways.

The second was that we gathered three really interesting chefs, who were all very distinct voices in the culinary world -- Grant Achatz, Douglas Keane and Andrew Carmellini. They all have every award under the sun, but they are all young and very modern thinkers. They all have made huge impacts on the arena that they work in. Grant has completely changed how America thinks of modern restaurants and modern cuisine. Douglas not only won Top Chef Masters, but is really one of the young chefs cooking in Napa today in a really modern and interesting way. And then Andrew has three of the most successful restaurants in New York, with others opening or opened already in other parts of the country. But he comes from a really classic French training, an Italian ancestry, and I think the food he cooks is really New York. Of anyone that cooks food, Andrew's food really represents New York City right now. It was great to have them all with us. We knew they would have really interesting things to say about the food.

On a side note, we were all pretty nervous because these were our friends and our colleagues, people that we admire. All of them have inspired me in many ways, and I've worked with all of them, especially Andrew. I worked with Andrew for many years, he was sort of my boss, and so we were all a little bit nervous having them in our last Elimination. We want our chefs to do well and we want our chefs to put their best foot forward. It's as if the final four chefs are like are children. We're asking them to a school play and impress the audience. We want them to shine, we want the guests of such incredible esteem to think that the chefs are talented. We wanted to show them why we do what we do on the show -- and much to our relief all final four chefs cooked such great food that day. I think everybody was impressed. So, that was good thing. 

You can’t help but feeling like a stage mom. You want the people who you admire to take your work seriously. We wanted them to enjoy it and feel like they came for a reason -- because we think that these four chefs really are the four most talented chefs to come through the competition.