Food & Wine special projects director, Top Chef judge and Top Chef: Just Desserts host Gail Simmons' memoir Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater comes out February 21 (pre-order on Amazon), and boy, is everyone in for a insidery, juicy tell-all. No, not really; but what you are in for is the story of how Simmons went from growing up in Toronto to being Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten's assistant, working for Daniel Boulud, and finally ending up at Food & Wine and on Top Chef.
The book is full of sweet moments in Simmons' life, essays on what it's like to be both a woman in the food industry and a female professional in general, inside looks at the filming of both Top Chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts, and a neat "My Life in One Day of Meals" recipe chapter that's exactly what it sounds like. Below, Gail Simmons makes good-natured fun of herself, talks food media, and gives insights to her many jobs.
The Best Lines From Gail Simmons' Upcoming Memoir
· After waking up hungover after sneaking a bunch of wine visiting vineyards in South Africa with her family, age 6: "I only remember that it tasted bitter and dried out in my mouth. I don't remember much else abut the experience, but then again, I was six and I was drunk."
· "[My college roommate] took to calling me "hungry boobs," as there was always something running down the front of my shirt, halted on its way to the napkin in my lap by the shelf my chest created. It wasn't pretty, but it was true."
· Foreshadowing: "My mother had offered to take me on a trip after graduation and it actually came down to Napa or the Food & Wine Classic. For whatever reason, we wound up in California — but the seed was planted to one day make it to Aspen."
· Describing the end of an average day working at Le Cirque: "I pack up my knives and head home."
· On getting busted for not reading Vogue while interviewing for a job with Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten: "I mentioned Tomoe, and that I had tried bluefin tuna belly (toro) for the first time. He burst out laughing. "You must not read Vogue." "Why?" I asked, knowing he was right. "Because," he said, I just wrote a column about how much I hate Tomoe sushi."
· On what it's like working for Jeffrey Steingarten: "Jeffrey walked around the apartment eating chocolate a lot of the day. I spent countless hours cleaning up wrappers and half-eaten chocolate bars." Also: "When I wasn't being scolded, I was shopping and cooking."
· "To this day, I'm sure I'm the only person ever to attend a Vogue meeting with Anna Wintour with goose fat running down my Old Navy T-shirt and onto my Levi's."
· On the what she refuses to eat (hint, Top Chef wannabes): "I don't eat black beans anymore. I know it's not rational, but I associate black beans with getting sick, and then with September 11, the day New York City Fell apart."
· One of her first days at Food & Wine, Simmons learned they don't say "bon appétitt" before a meal the hard way: "A hush fell. [VP of marketing] Chris [Grdovic] gave me a murderous look. "We don't really use that term at Food & Wine," she whispered. "That's our biggest competitor. Instead we say: "Enjoy your Food & Wine."'"
· On judging Top Chef: "It took me awhile to understand that it was not Bravo's intention to make me look evil, and just as long for them to realize that only showing our most critical moments would not endear us to our audience either. Overall, I think they edit us more kindly now."
· On celebrity chefs: "What does 'celebrity chef' even mean? I hate the term. I guess it means you're famous? And you cook, sort of?"
· On the dark side of blogging: "Some people in the blogosphere have even given up anonymity altogether, and will trade positive writeups for VIP service and free food. That's not just bad journalism; it's extortion."
· On how chocolate master Jacques Torres reacted to Just Desserts not allowing chefs recipes the first season: "Are you out of your minds? Why have them stumbling through the basics, they'll revolt and you'll be stuck eating the same four pastries all season long!"
· On her role in "the ever-expanding food universe:" "I like to think of myself as a sort of cheerleader, or perhaps a translator."