Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons doesn't understand why Edward Lee was so hard on Sarah Grueneberg.

on Jan 4, 2012 Let’s talk quickly about the Quickfire. The chefs are presented with Modernist Cuisine. It seemed like everyone might immediately think of molecular gastronomy. What do you consider modernist cuisine?
Gail Simmons: Well it is molecular gastronomy, but the term molecular gastronomy isn’t really a term that people who actually practice it use anymore. Modernist cuisine is the umbrella term for using modern science and technology to make cooking more efficient and advanced. Modernist cuisine means many, many things. What Ty-lor did certainly employed modernist techniques. He used a chemical compound to convert olive oil into powder, which when it hits your mouth turns back into olive oil. That’s very much a modernist technique that plays on texture and how we perceive certain ingredients. It was very much what modernist cuisine is about -- exploring, pushing the boundaries of our traditional notions of how to cook, and employing more modern methods to make cooking better and new. Now the problem is that people get wrapped up in “molecular gastronomy” and they think it’s all about tricks and gimmicks, when in fact that’s the opposite of what people like Nathan Myhrvold will tell you. The purpose of employing these scientific techniques is not to trick you but to enhance the genre, to enhance the way we cook. There always needs to be a purpose behind it – either because it makes cooking more flavorful, more efficient, or so we can understand it better. That is also why some of the other dishes didn’t work. They relied too heavily on tricks, with no purpose to enhancing the dish. I felt bad for Chris Jones. 
GS: He did OK. He made an interesting dish, but I think also it’s good to be humbled by what you do. Even if you are an expert. He has a healthy ego, and he does what he does well, but you can’t take for granted that there are people who know more about it than you. Or that just because it’s what you do there isn't still room to learn. He was in the top. He just didn’t win because I think he got a little over-zealous and carried away. At the end of the day, again, the trick to winning any challenge, especially one like this is --- did you use the technique in a purposeful way – to enhance the experience of eating and cooking? And I think Ty-lor did. He gave us a really beautiful pairing of flavors in a very untraditional way that could only have been created through the use of this technique. I think it was the smarter dish. It didn’t need all the bells and whistles.