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Random Questions With: Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons says being a food expert is both a blessing and a curse. To this day, no one invites her over for dinner.
Melanie Dunea
Gail Simmons says being a food expert is both a blessing and a curse. To this day, no one invites her over for dinner.

Food writer, culinary expert and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons has tasted some of the best food in the world. But when she sat down with Ask Me Another host and fellow Canadian Ophira Eisenberg, they agreed that poutine (a combination of French fries, gravy and cheese curds) is still the best thing to eat if you find yourself in Montreal at 3 in the morning. As long as the cheese curds are squeaky, Simmons warned. "No shredding cheddar!"

Growing up, Gail Simmons was basically forced into having an adventurous palate. Long before she got her start at Food & Wine Magazine, she learned about food from her mother, who ran a cooking school out of the family kitchen. She remembers:

"I was never invited anywhere for lunch because everyone's mother was scared to cook for me. They thought that what we got at my house and what I wanted to eat was always really fancy. ... When you're 8 years old, all you want to eat is hot dogs and mac and cheese. My mom never let me eat hot dogs. We had to eat, like, leek quiche and duck pâté."

Even though she's made a name for herself on programs like Top Chef and her new show, The Feed, Simmons still just wants someone to have her over for a meal. "To this day, no one invites me for dinner. I know — feel bad for me, I'm starving!"

Gail Simmons is currently a judge on Top Chef Duels, so for this game, she arbitrates on competing pairs of foodie activities, like home brewing vs. home pickling. Plus, don't miss her Ask Me AnotherChallenge about the food trends that leave a bad taste in her mouth.

Interview Highlights

On the appeal of TV cooking competitions

Food and competition hits on everything that people like in the world. There's food. ... Everybody has something to say about food, whether you call yourself a foodie or not. And I think people like to watch other people fail. So those two things combined are really compelling.

On the screen test that landed her a job on Top Chef

One of the questions [the interviewer] asked me was, "What was your worst restaurant experience ever?" I told him a story about how I had gone to a diner and ordered an omelet — and I'm very particular about my omelets — and they brought it overcooked. I sent it back, and they brought it raw. I burst into tears. And they had never at Bravo met anyone who had cried over eggs before, so they were like, "That girl needs to be on television!" And the rest is history.

This episode originally aired on October 9, 2014.

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