Having Gail Simmons host the newly-created Top Chef Amateurs is a win-win for viewers.
With Tuesday’s announcement that the good folks at Bravo and Magical Elves are hard at work on producing Top Chef Amateurs with Gail Simmons as its host, euphoria ensued among Top Chef fans everywhere.
Taking the tried & true Top Chef recipe and sprinkling in home cooks, then handing the reins to the popular Gail Simmons and inviting Top Chef alumni to participate portends great things for the franchise and its audience alike.
Upon hearing about Gail’s involvement with Top Chef Amateurs, I couldn’t help but wonder what appealed to her, especially with production already underway on Season 18 of Top Chef in Portland, Oregon.
“Being at home these last several months has shown us just how good and how serious home cooks really are, and it’s time to show off all they can do. I’m super excited to give some of these talented “Amateurs” a glimpse into the Top Chef kitchen and a chance to strut their stuff on a national stage. Being able to do it alongside some of my favorite Top Chef alumni will make it even more fun for us all!”
Like the talented home cooks Gail mentions, she has made the most of this year’s pandemic-related extenuating circumstances. A quick scroll through her Instagram account will bear that out, in addition to likely making you hungry and motivating you to hop into the kitchen if you haven’t already.
As the mom of two little ones, Gail’s frequent forays into the kitchen have been done with their palettes in mind. I asked her how quarantine has been with kids from a food standpoint.
“That’s a refreshing question. Because from every other standpoint it’s been crap. But from a food standpoint, it’s been good. My two-year-old doesn’t get a vote on the menu, but he is such a good eater. He’s at that age where you can just give him anything and he eats it with gusto. It’s such a pleasure to cook for him and watch him eat. Like we literally videotape him eating and send it to this group of friends of ours almost every day on a text chain because it’s such a joyful experience.”
How do your son’s eating habits compare to his older sister?
“She’s six and we control everything about her life. You know, from the minute she wakes up, do your homework, do your math, do your reading. Now it’s time to get dressed, now it’s time to go outside. And so the only thing she has is control over what she eats. No, I’m not eating that or no, I only want this today. But she’s actually a great eater too. She wants dumplings like four times a week. So we eat a lot of vegetable dumplings, like shumai and gyoza, that kind of stuff.
She also eats a ton of broccoli and she likes this very simple salad that she’ll eat with almost every dinner. It’s just cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, salt, and olive oil. I mean, it couldn’t be more simple, but I’m not going to complain if that’s what she wants to eat. There are very few six-year-olds who want to eat salad. She’s super happy. We made sushi the other night and she was super into it. We had hand roll night and we made sushi rice and we got sheets of seaweed. She loves seaweed. And she was psyched to put the rice in the seaweed sheets and pile in avocado and cucumber. So she’s been great!”
Okay, Gail, your kids eat healthily. I’m personally envious, but they’re still kids. Let’s hear about the goodies too.
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Six-year-old-led baking project: post modernist (i.e. irregular-shaped) blackberry hand pies with all the fruit from our berry picking adventures. Baking with kiddos means things get real messy, real fast, and lots of deep breathing and patience is required (hello 2020 👋). But these came out infinitely cooler then any “perfectly” shaped pastries I’ve made. 💜 Bonus: Used up the puff pastry that’s been in my freezer since March and made enough easy blackberry jam to slater on toast, over ice cream or eat with a spoon for at least 3 more days. 🤗
“We’re also baking a lot together, which has been really fun. We’ve made muffins and cakes and lemon pound cake and chocolate chip cookies, which isn’t necessarily what I would usually be doing, all of that sugary baking, but it’s a great activity and it’s math and it’s science and it’s an hour of time with her. That’s really quality time. And she feels really great at the end because she feels really accomplished and she shows it off to her grandparents on Zoom. It’s great bonding time.”
As Gail Simmons prepares to transition from her quarantine kitchen to the Top Chef kitchen with Top Chef Amateurs, we can patiently await its 2021 premiere knowing that the show is in trusted and very capable hands.
How has your quarantine cooking experience been? Do you have a new go-to dish?