Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons shares her finale highlights and lowlights.

on Mar 1, 2012 So your group’s chawanmushi was perfect, and the other group’s was not. 
GS: For both Paul and Sarah, there was one course where the two groups experienced very differently and that made it difficult to judge but also really interesting for the dialogue between us. Paul’s chawanmushi was perfect for us and trampled for Padma’s team. Then again, Sarah’s veal cheek dish did not go over well for Padma’s team and Sarah was smart enough to fix it for our team. Whether or not it was successful is another story altogether. But we had two experiences -- the dish had changed and evolved as the night went along. But what is kind of interesting about doing it this way, as opposed to how we used to do the finale where we ate everything at the same time, is that it’s much more like it is in a real restaurant. Next Paul had his grilled sea bass with the dashi.
GS: I thought this was the best dish that Paul made. Every single one of us, every chef and judge was blown away because it was perfect. It was balanced -- there were pickled radishes, the mushrooms, the crispy skin, the whole package. That broth. Every element was thoughtful, was delicious, was tasty, and just enjoyable. Then we have the congee where you thought maybe it should have been a meat course.
GS: It’s not that I needed it to be a meat. I got over that when I understood the feeling that he was going for. Obviously it had an Asian influence, and he didn’t need to put a big steak on the plate, and that he wanted to focus all on fresh seafood. Looking at that in the end, my question became: he really gave us two egg dishes, and I thought that was a strange choice. The chawanmushi, that smooth custard and then the scrambled egg with the congee, both with fish, which just was a little bit odd. Granted the congee was more rich, so you experienced it very differently, but it was my least favorite course on Paul’s menu. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good, and I would still eat it again. Hugh apologizes in his blog for cutting you off at Judges’ Table.
GS: Really?! I actually thought that was great because I’m often asked if we ever disagree and why don’t they show more of it or how the conversation goes. I’m glad they kept that in because it shows we all have different opinions.