All we can say is, it's about time. We've tagged along with Gail Simmons for years as a judge and host on Top Chef and its various spin-offs, and we eagerly devoured her 2012 memoir Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater. But at long last, Gail is releasing her very first cookbook, Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes From a Life of Adventurous Eating, due out October 24.
"“This book is about taking all of the inspiration from my whole life, starting with my childhood and into my adventures traveling, working with chefs, sitting beside them at judges’ table, exploring new cities, new towns, new nooks and crannies all over the world,” Gail said in an interview with PEOPLE, which unveiled the cookbook cover today.
Gail also spoke to The Feast (on her way to a Top Chef Season 15 shoot, no less—"It's going great, we're three days in, no major disasters yet!" she revealed), about the recipe that finally convinced her it was time to write a cookbook: a noodle dish she tasted on a food crawl through some of Singapore's greatest hawker centers while filming Top Chef Season 7. "And I fell in love with this one noodle dish. I was just blown away by it, I had never tasted anything like it," she enthused. "And I came back to America and i looked for it everywhere, and I still have not found it or anything like it in any restaurant… it doesn't exist, It's a very specialized recipe and I was very frustrated by that."
So naturally, Gail set out to recreate the recipe at home. "it took awhile and it's definitely not the easiest recipe in the book, but it's definitely the most satisfying and delicious. And when I finally nailed it, I just made it again and again, and it's just the recipe that I love to make."
That recipe for Singapore Hokkien-Style Noodles is her favorite in the book.
Top Chef fans will especially love some of the lessons from Bringing It Home, Gail added, noting that she's learned a lot from her 15 seasons as a judge. "You give the same advice over and over again to the chefs because they make the same mistakes, they're very common kitchen mistakes. And over the years I've noticed that some of those lessons have made it into popular culture," she said.
"At the start of my book I have a whole chapter dedicated to lessons i've learned from television and from chefs that are really worth bringing home. And they're all the lessons that I think Top Chef fans will appreciate because they hear them over and over, sort of like inside jokes from the show, like why on season 13 it was the season of crudo? Or you know, there was a season…where all anyone made was scallops. And it was a running joke, like 'This should have been Top Scallop,' but there's reasons everyone cooked with scallops."
"The idea of scallops is that scallops are quick-cooking, they are really a blank canvas, and not only are they delicious and go with a million different applications, but they're super-fast to make" she explained. "And in a Quickfire when you're short on time, scallops are a great thing to reach for, and the same applies in the home kitchen. When you're short on time and you get home at the end of the day, or you have people coming over, scallops are a great option because it's 15 minutes and you have a beautiful dish."
Taking those lessons from Top Chef and her years of restaurant experience and "applying them each to one or two great home recipes, so that people can take that lesson and understand by actually cooking the recipe that highlights that lesson, what exactly we're talking about on the show" was her goal with this cookbook, Gail says. "I hope people will use the book that way."
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