HOW SHE DOES IT: TV Host-Slash-Author Gail Simmons is Determined to Bring Female Chefs to the Forefront
HOW SHE DOES IT: TV Host-Slash-Author Gail Simmons is Determined to Bring Female Chefs to the Forefront

HOW SHE DOES IT: TV Host-Slash-Author Gail Simmons is Determined to Bring Female Chefs to the Forefront

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Here at Good American, we're all about stellar women. We want to know what they're doing and how they’re doing it. So, when Gail, a woman that definitely “has it going on," (currently about to go into filming her 17th season as Judge of Top Chef on the heels of a cookbook launch and a second baby, plus, plus, plus so much more!) invited us over, we jumped. Below, a few of our favorite shots with this powerhouse (home with her babe Kole, 13 months) along with her thoughts on food is politics, her interest in supporting women through her new business, and what a typical day in her world looks like—as if there was such a thing! The TV host talks what’s next on Top Chef (14 years running!), the future of food, and how she does it all in a day from work to momming…


On all that she’s working on:


I’m about to go into production on the second season of Iron Chef Canada, which is the Canadian version of the Japanese show. And, immediately after, we go into production on our 17th season of Top Chef. It's wild how much life's changed since we started the show, both for me (obviously), plus the landscape of reality TV and food, too! Like anything that’s been around for a while, we were the trailblazers at one point, and now we’re like the god-parents of the genre. Over the years, there have been many imitators, and while the brand has changed and evolved, we remain a flagship on Bravo. Our track record is our legacy. Countless culinary stars and leaders in the food space have come through the show and gone on to win awards, open restaurants and become household names.


To keep it fresh, the show doesn’t take place in a studio. We continue to travel all over the world for Top Chef, and every season we feature a different city or country.


PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER TRAHAN


PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER TRAHAN

On how she organizes her day:


Overall, I think the way we work as a society has changed — at least in the major cities — and at the risk of sounding cliché, there are no “typical” days for me. I travel a lot for work, usually once or twice a month, sometimes longer if I’m in production.


With that said, when I’m in town, I try not to rush my mornings. We prioritize breakfast in my house, then I take my daughter (Dahlia, 5) to school, and come home to spend time with my juicy baby boy. Breakfast is a big deal in our house because we cannot always be together for dinner. 


Around 10am, I start my workday. My office is about ten blocks away, here in Brooklyn. For years my office was in Manhattan, but when I was pregnant with Kole, I realized it wasn't a priority to keep a stronghold in the city. As it is, I head in about three or four days a week for meetings; so, when I can, I prefer to be close to home. I try to be home for dinner and bath time five nights a week, but I usually have work commitments a few nights a week too.


I was just in Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic three weeks ago, then I went to Charlotte for a night to speak at a conference, and in August I go to Toronto to start shooting Iron Chef.  My schedule is always changing and in flux, which keeps it interesting.


On how she manages destination filming with kids:


While it's not without its logistical challenges, we make it work. The good news, until now I haven’t had to be away from the kids all that much. Two seasons ago, my son wasn’t born while we were shooting, and my daughter was young enough to come with me, with the support of our incredible caregiver, who loves to travel too! 


Plus, so much has changed, and many of the crew have kids now. Tom Colicchio has three children, Padma has a daughter, I have two kids, and many of our producers do too. Ten years ago, we all would have been at a bar until 2 am after a long shoot day, but now it’s more like we throw our kids in a pile on set, like a hilarious daycare, and head home early.


For me, this season will be a little different, as it's the first time I have two kids. My daughter will be in 1st grade as well, and not as flexible to travel. My son is a baby, so I’ll take him with me for most of the time while my daughter and husband will dip in and out.


On launching Bumble Pie Productions:


I founded Bumble Pie Productions with my partner Samantha in LA and produced a show for the Food Network in 2017. Plus, we have two more in the development that I hope will get the greenlight this year. 


On the long term, we both want to produce our own work, and want to discover new voices, specifically female, to support by creating compelling content that’s all ours. Still to this day, both in food and entertainment, women's voices (not to mention people of color and different ethnicities), are widely underserved at the highest levels. While we’re making great strides, when you look at the averages of people in the industry, it’s mostly male. Samantha and I feel strongly about impacting this space, as best we can. 

PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER TRAHAN

PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER TRAHAN



On food being the lens by which to get to know a place:


I want to eat with gusto and abandon with friends & family. Out loud and not fancy. I love the casualness of the way everybody eats now, and how hard it is to get a bad meal in any part of the country. There are so many great, young chefs in every corner of the world doing inventive and amazing things. It's not just in the major cities either, but farmers and artisans are crafting phenomenal experiences everywhere in the food space. It's an exciting time.  


On what’s next in food:


I'm less concerned with micro trends and more interested in the weightier topics of the food industry. I’m fiercely focused on raising-up females in the kitchen, as well as people from other countries (or corners of this country) that have otherwise been unheard. This movement has created a dramatic shift in the way we eat, which excites me. In general, people are feeling the freedom to explore their roots, family heritage, and ancestral heritage, which in many ways reflects the politics of our times. Food is so closely related to politics; whether in dealing with sustainability issues and the environment, immigration, or women’s rights, food is an expression of all of these things. People in this country are figuring out how to use it as a vehicle to show their support for whatever side of the proverbial fence they stand.


Generally, most people don’t think of food as political, but there's nothing I hate more than when I say something that has a slight political bend and people tell me to stick to food. That’s impossible! Everyone has beliefs and emotions tied to food and their origins. It's like saying, stick to being human, when being human is everything. Food is human, and politics affects our humanity; they're intrinsically connected.


Stay up-to-date on Gail's recipes! Follow @GailSimmonsEasts on Instagram