Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons explains why Sarah Grueneberg's dish's flaws didn't get her sent home.

on Feb 23, 2012

Bravotv.com: Padma commented that it wasn’t hot enough, but they had also gotten him in the Quickfire for putting too much chili in it. 
GS: So he played it down, and that’s a delicate balance obviously. You don’t want to blow peoples' mouths out because heat is not a flavor. Chili has flavor, but it also has power and you need to be very careful because you don’t want it to be so powerful that you can’t actually taste it, and it just kind of dulls everything else and you can’t taste anything in the dish. But the dish was really balanced and it was really lovely as we had hoped.

The circumstances were a lot harder than they seemed from the outside. First of all, it was freezing in that room because they kept all the doors to this event space open, this old salt factory that they were cooking in. We were actually in Olympic Village where all of the Olympians stayed, and now they are converting them to really nice condos. And we were in this old salt factory; it was really cool. But they were cooking in a very makeshift kitchen behind the event space, and most of the people who were at that party were chefs from around town, chefs from Vancouver, as well as people from Canada Tourism, a lot of really well-traveled, well-versed people in food, so it was actually a really good group to cook for. It was just freezing in there, which did not help the contestants when they had to carry the food from across the event space into the party. So that also was sort of a challenge in itself. But I thought what Paul did was smart -- it certainly showed a range of flavor and technique. 

Bravotv.com: Next we have Sarah’s dish. 
GS: Sarah’s dish was really fantastic. The pasta, of course, was, for me, the best part. She’s really a master when she makes fresh pasta. She does it so well; it’s flawless and soft and melted in your mouth. The greens had tons of flavor, it had the chilies, the garlic, but I also wanted to see way more heat. I didn’t really get the fire in this dish. And I actually, of all of us, had the most issue with this dish from Sarah with the frozen sformato. She put it right on top of the pasta, and it was frozen into a block. So when I used my fork to push down into it, to cut it, not only was it very difficult to cut, and so frozen, but it also pushed down on the pasta and squished out all the filling from the pasta which I think actually was a flaw in the conceptual presentation of the dish. That said, once you got the sformato into your mouth, it was so flavorful. It had some spices in it, it had a curry flavor, it was delicious, it was creamy as it should be. It really was more like a semi-freddo than a sformato even though it was partially frozen. And I know there was an ice challenge, but you still have to make it work in terms of how the dish feeds and I don’t think it was totally successful which is why she didn’t win, but her flavors were so strong and the balance of the ingredients was so great and her cocktail was excellent too, so that’s also why she didn’t lose.