Bravotv.com: Finale! We start with Sarah and Paul selecting their sous-chefs. Were you surprised that no one selected Marco?
Gail Simmons: I thought it was great that they put him in the mix. I’m disappointed that no one got Marco because he is such a massive talent and would have been such an asset. But what was unusual about the way they did it was that they kind of put the chefs in our shoes for a little. They had to only judge based on what was in front of them; it didn’t matter if they knew people’s backgrounds, who they were, what they did before, it was just all on this dish and it gives people a chance. You don’t necessary know who you’re choosing based on one course. It doesn’t matter if you know they’re a great chef, and if it’s not great or you don’t like it at that moment, you make a very different decision. So, I thought it was really smart and there are so many factors that go into it -- all these chefs are talented.
Bravotv.com: Were you surprised that Sarah selected Tyler because she thought that Heather made that dish?
GS: You can’t make that s--t up.
Bravotv.com: Does she really have that dish in her restaurant? That’s so weird.
GS: It was a little weird, but you know there aren’t that many brand new flavor combinations. It’s possible. I felt badly for her because I know that freaked her out, but Tyler could be great actually and I think in the end he really did pull through for her. He’s young, we could tell, and he’s got more confidence than experience right now. This challenge, where all you want to do is win -- you aren’t there to mentor at that moment.
Bravotv.com: So we go to their restaurants. You started at Paul’s. What was your first reaction when you got to Qi? Tom really liked the simplicity of the menu.
GS: I’m with Tom, Mark McEwen, Cat Cora and, Marco. Overall, I was excited for the menu because I’m always excited by Paul’s food. And I knew this was sort of his to lose. He had done so well over the course of the season -- I think he reached $45-50,000 in wins alone and that’s before he actually won the season. Obviously, whatever he does you’re excited to sample. There were a couple of questions I had on the menu. I thought it was an unusual menu and I wasn’t quite sure while reading it how it was going to go. The fact that he didn’t have any meat, the fact that he had two egg courses -- first the chawanmushi and then the congee -- was interesting, and they could be great or they could go wrong. I was a little nervous for him but also excited to see what he had in mind. Because you know that he did it for a reason, you just have to put yourself in his hands.