We caught up with Gail Simmons at last night’s premiere party for The Rachel Zoe Project, and while Simmons didn’t reveal much about the recently wrapped season of Top Chef, we do find out that Thomas Keller and Alice Waters probably won’t be appearing this time around. Drat.
What can you tell us [about the new season]?
Nothing! [laughs] But it was in New York, and Padma, Tom, and I are all from New York, so it was a long time coming. Sleeping in our own beds was awesome, but it changed the show a little bit to be at home. What’s been so awesome about the show is that we’ve been in a different city each time and we get to know it and the food. We get to hang out. It was different this season and a little calmer. But, of course, New York was amazing chef-wise, guest-wise, and challenge-wise. It sort of all came together.
Did you get more input since it’s your home?
Yeah, we did for locations and guest chefs. It’s our turf, so we could really stake our claim. We all pitch in and throw our two cents in, but the producers have it down to a science.
Who would you have if you could have anyone?
Anyone?! Oh God. There are some awesome international chefs. Can we do dead or alive? Can we go there?
It’d be awesome to have [someone] from 200 years ago and they came into the future and saw what we were doing. Julia Child! The classic. These people who were at the beginning of making good food accessible to Americans. I think they’d get a big kick out of it. I’d love to have Alice Waters on the show. Thomas Keller.
Will you ever go international?
I would love to. There’s been talk of it. It’s just a logistics thing.
What makes a good Top Chef contestant? You know what I mean?
Of course! There’s a lot of really not-good contestants. I think you need to be someone who plays it for what it is. It’s a competition but it’s fun. At the end of the day, it’s not life or death. You’re not doing brain surgery or dealing with foreign politics. You’re cooking! You’re eating! The people who have done really well get that. They don’t take it too seriously, but they have passion and conviction and stand behind what they do. You also need talent. You need to know how to cook! It helps.
What should people eat for Fashion Week?
I’m so not into the little that people eat … I get so cranky. Protein! Cheese! Fashion Week should be an all-cheeseburger diet.