Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater by Gail Simmons

I absolutely adore Gail Simmons on TopChef and TopChef Just Desserts. She's the only judge who is capable of routinely giving constructive criticism without sounding mean spirited. It's a great life skill. You can tell that she truly cares about food and the chefs who cook it.

I don't read very many biographies, but I devoured this memoir because I wanted to learn how she scored such a great job. Talking With My Mouth Full does not disappoint. I anticipated the TopChef chapters the most, but I discovered that the first chapters are much more illuminating. Perhaps the more recent past needs more time to marinate to develop.

Ms. Simmons sprinkles recipes throughout the book. I cannot wait to try this simple salad (p. 64). I'm waiting for summer when the tomatoes are more in season:

"And every single day for breakfast and dinner, I would eat the same salad. The Israeli kids taught me how to make this kibbutz staple. Dice a tomato and a whole cucumber. Mix them with cottage cheese, salt, and pepper. I also would mix in a little mustard, with a fried or hard-boiled egg."

I recommend this book to anyone obsessed with Gail. She's lived a very interesting life from Canada to New York, from working with Jeffrey Steingarten to TopChef, and she even includes a photo of the menu she used at her wedding! She includes useful infographics like a list of those who work the front of the restaurant and the kitchen (p. 126-7). The sketches are darling. She also lists the 12 courses served in general order (p. 99). Simply amazing.

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