Bravotv.com: How do we begin? We can start with the boys being down one number, and what you thought about the battle of the sexes overall?
Gail Simmons: Obviously we only have seven people left, and they’re all pretty strong. Actually, in a way, it was split well because there were strong people on both teams. I think Part 1 of Restaurant Wars really helped. It made the restaurants much stronger than they otherwise would have been—stronger in terms of concept, and delivery on that concept, than any restaurant has been in the past. It wasn’t just, “You have 24 hours—think of what you want to do and throw it together.” They still needed to throw everything together, and it was still 48 hours to get the food out, but their concepts were both well developed already. Of course it was still going to be a struggle for the boys, because they had one less person and an enormous amount of work.
Bravotv.com: Kristen was concerned that she had never led a kitchen for that amount of covers.
GS: I think it’s a huge challenge. We forget that Kristen is still quite young. She’s immensely talented, which we’ve established, but she’s still a sous chef—which means she’s the second in command in the restaurant, not the first. And there’s a huge difference. She’s usually not the one expediting, which means calling out and managing the timing of all the orders, and that’s the most critical role in service.
Also she’s a perfectionist -- she had such a clear vision and wanted to control all of it. Of course that’s the intention: you want it to be yours. But part of being a chef, too, is learning that you cannot necessarily touch every plate. It might be impossible. So what can you do as a chef to make sure the food still looks the way it should, and is tailored to your vision, but you are still empowering the chefs underneath you, to have the confidence to execute it without you guiding them every step of the way? You need to give them clear direction, but you also need to give them responsibility. And I think she failed to do this in the end.