Gail Simmons on food, Jeffrey Steingarten and her hometown of Toronto
She may have ditched Hogtown for the Big Apple, but Gail Simmons still remembers her hometown fondly—especially when being interviewed by the Toronto Star. A recent profile in the paper details the early life of the Top Chef judge, including a post-university period of feeling “lost and scared” while living in her parents’ basement. The Cedarvale native had sweeter plans in mind, though, wanting to do nothing more or less in life than “cook, eat, travel, write.” After interning right here at Toronto Life and at the National Post, she realized there weren’t many food-writing jobs in Canada. “Most of the food news we consume is American, especially in magazines,” she says, which is why she packed up her taste buds and whisked off to New York.
Other notable points in the profile are Simmons’s take on her former boss and cantankerous Iron Chef judge Jeffrey Steingarten. “He can be very difficult,” she confirms, but says that working with him was “the opportunity of a lifetime.” After cooking on the line at Le Cirque and doing PR for chef Daniel Boulud, she sidestepped into the marketing department at Food and Wine, where Top Chef came looking for a marketing partner and judge. Simmons is now an anchor judge on the number one food show on U.S. cable TV—surviving since the first-season shakeup that saw the disastrously stiff host Katie Lee Joel get bounced for the more personable Padma Lakshmi. And now, Simmons has been offered host duties on the spinoff Top Chef: Just Desserts.
We’re just proud of this hometown girl, who’s living proof that an ambition to work in food journalism doesn’t necessarily lead to the most ironic of destinies: starvation.