Bravotv.com: What was it like having your join you for the Quickfire?
Gail Simmons: It was wonderful and a terrifying all at once! This was my mom’s first time in New Orleans, and certainly her first time being on camera with me. She’s been on the set once before, during Top Chef: Just Desserts, but spending a full day with us, and actually being part of a Quickfire was really fun. I was very nervous about the idea when the producers first suggested it to us. But Padma and I decided to just hold hands and dive into it together, sort of like, “Well, if you’ll do it, I’ll do it. And we have each other to lean on if things get really scary.” It ended up being great. Thankfully everyone on our crew is so warm and welcoming, and the chefs were really excited. My mom had a blast, and I think that it was a creative, exciting challenge.
Bravotv.com: Did she have a good time? Was she nervous?
GS: She actually wasn’t very nervous at all. She may have been a little anxious when they first explained what she was going to be doing, which we weren’t totally clear on before she arrived. I didn’t realize they were going to have my mother running around with a shopping cart, which I was a little worried for since she’s my mother and – number one – I didn’t know if she’d be up for it, and -- number two -- if she really want to do it. But she got into it! She was impressed with the chefs and happy to be there, so it ended up being great. She wasn’t nervous about being on camera; she was calm about that. She got along really well with Padma’s mom too, and the four of us had a lot of fun together.
Bravotv.com: What did you think about your mom’s critique? Reading your book, we know that you grew up in your mom’s kitchen.
GS: My mom knows a lot about food. And I guess that’s how I know about food too at my foundation. She is a really great cook, exceptional actually. She’s always been very discerning, loves creative food, and loves all things to do with cooking. I think it was easy for her, in that way; it was very natural for her to be talking to the chefs about their dishes, and tasting the the food, giving her thoughts. I thought everything she said was really accurate and smart, but I never doubted it would be.
Bravotv.com: How did the chefs do?
GS: I thought all the food was delicious. I was amazed at what they all were able to come up with, with such a varied and outrageous selection of ingredients on both sides. And from the fact that they didn’t have simple things like whisks, or other integral equipment. How could our mothers have known to get what they needed to make specific dishes? The fact that Carrie made a sabayon, the fact that Nina put together that soup that had 40 disparate ingredients and that all ended up actually tasting OK… it was miraculous! In the end, we based our decision on which dishes tasted the best and which incorporated the shopping cart ingredients in the most organic, natural way. We loved what both teams did. But there was something a little more cohesive about the three dishes from Team Lakshmi, a little more refined.