Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons explains why the reasons Grayson went home were actually three-fold.

on Feb 2, 2012 On to the Elimination Challenge. I thought this was the most difficult challenge, maybe we’ve ever had.
GS: I agree. I think it was definitely the most difficult challenge we’ve ever had, certainly this season and we’ve had some pretty tough ones. There were different skills required. If I look at other difficult challenges like the overnight BBQ challenge, which was certainly physically demanding in its sleeplessness and the quantity of food, that challenge was really about long term endurance and quantity/volume. This was completely the opposite, in terms of what we were asking the chefs to accomplish. This was much more about flexibility, adaptability, thinking on your feet on the short term. Even though the quantity they were preparing for was only four people. They were given a bike and a hundred bucks, and had to literally scavenge for their food and scavenge for a place to cook and then get it all to the Alamo for lunch! They also had to take into consideration Pee-wee’s likes and dislikes and the fact that it was lunch. We gave this challenge to the chefs at this stage in the game because we knew that with only five left they are the strongest five and they could do it. We’d never have given this challenge in Episode 4. It would never have worked. There’s method to our madness. And they all really did succeed. All five of the chefs gave us great lunches. We were choosing the least best to go home, as opposed to the worst. I think the person that went home has a big fan base.
GS: Yes, she certainly does. It’s going to be a hard one. And I also have to say it’s going to look like we sent her home because she put tomatoes and squash on the plate. But I think that all three (Sarah, Ed, and Grayson) that we put in the bottom, made mistakes, were flawed -- although not by much. We were kind of splitting hairs as we always say. The problem with Grayson’s dish was actually three-fold, I thought. First: the flavors didn’t meld so well. People might not understand why Tom was hung up on that idea of tomatoes and squash. They’re grown in distinctly different seasons so they don’t make for a great flavor combination in terms of all the vegetables she could choose. With tomatoes you think Mediterranean. And with squash you really think a colder climate, a colder season. As we love to say, “If it grows together, it goes together.” And those two just don’t. So there was sort of a bit of a disconnect there, but that wasn’t her greatest issue. Second: Her portions were massive. Her dish was disproportionate to everyone else’s in size. Third: she made a specific claim that she purposefully took the skin off her chicken to make it healthy, because Pee-wee likes to eat healthy. (He’s actually incredibly fit. He rides that bike like nobody’s business.) But at the same time she stuffed her chicken with egg yolk and gorgonzola cheese and drizzled it with bacon vinaigrette! So, for us, it was a real discrepancy in her conception of this dish. You have to remember that when you make decisions, like taking the skin off chicken, there’s a reason that people cook with the skin on the chicken, because it gives it moisture, it gives it flavor, and it helps to cook it properly. Without it your chicken risks being dry and flavorless. But then she put all this fat in it afterwards, but at that point you can’t change the doneness or texture of the meat. That’s not to say they weren’t a great idea and they weren’t delicious, for a different challenge. But if you’re trying to give Pee-wee Herman a healthier dish by taking the skin off. I would have much preferred to eat the fat of the skin then bacon, gorgonzola, and egg yolk. It was a conceptual issue, that to us didn’t sit right.