Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Dana Cowin

Food & Wine editor and Gail Simmons' boss answers our questions about guest judging her colleague's bridal shower.

Bravotv.com: What did it mean for you that the episode was based around one of your colleague's, Gail's, bridal shower?
It was really thrilling to be there for Gail. First, she's such a fantastic person -- I loved being there and being able to toast to the future happiness that I know she'll have. Also, it was great to be with all of her amazing, inspiring, kind friends. Second, I knew the chefs would try extra hard to please her since it was an important event in her life. So I thought the food would be good.

Bravotv.com: What do you think the most important things to being successful in this challenge were? How do you think catering for an event with food editors would differ from a normal bridal shower?
At a normal bridal shower, I imagine the guests don't really eat; they pick. At Gail's shower, the women don't pick, but they've got picky palates.

Bravotv.com: Which dishes left the biggest impressions on you (both good and bad)?
The deconstructed sushi was memorably bad: The flavors were discordant (Daniel's peach BBQ sauce? I still shake my head at that one) and the dish wasn't well prepared (ruined sushi rice). The "new" theme wasn't well-realized (Sushi's new? Who knew?). The lamb dish, on the other hand, was delicious and the whole dish was a pleasure to eat.

Bravotv.com: The losing team's "sushi" was supposed to be put together by the guests. If this had been explained correctly, do you think this would have been fun or a failed concept?

The sushi concept would have failed even if we'd known to "make-our-own." DIY isn't exactly a winning idea, either. Bravotv.com: Which chefs left the best impressions on you? Anyone you see making it to the end?
Fabio made the biggest impression for his personality, not necessarily his "blue fish dish", which was a bit bland. He attempted to use his fabulous accent and his banter to seduce the audience. It immediately made me suspicious. The food should be the focus here, not his own marriage.

Bravotv.com: Overall, how was your guest judging experience?
It was fantastic to be a guest judge. I loved being there with Gail for her shower and exchanging ideas about the success or failures of each dish. It's like table tennis for the food set, ping-pong-ping-pong, thoughts bouncing back and forth between passionate experts. Bravotv.com: As editor in chief of such a successful food magazine, what do you think Top Chef has changed about the way people eat/judge food? Top Chef has changed our world--for the better. People feel so much more connected to their food, to the person in the kitchen, and they feel more empowered to state their own opinions about what's on their plate. For more info about Dana Cowin and Food & Wine magazine, goHERE.