Gail Simmons’s rock-stardom is complete: F&W’s phenomenal special-projects expert—and even more famously, a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef—now has her own show, Top Chef: Just Desserts, where she'll take on a Padma-esque role as host and judge. Here’s Gail, answering a few questions.
Why desserts? “Pastry chefs have a different brain than savory chefs. Which is probably why there have been so few good desserts on Top Chef. And there’s so much talent out there in the dessert world right now.”
How does the first season of Just Desserts look? “The people working on casting say the level of contestants is as good as it was on Season 6, the best TC season ever.”
Filming starts when/where: “Filming hasn’t started yet.”
Epically great Top Chef desserts: “A few years ago, we did a holiday special right after Season 4. Tiffani, runner-up from Season 1, made an outrageous butterscotch flan that she served in Chinese soup spoons with some kind of fried sage on top. And Bryan’s dessert on the Season 6 finale—dulce de leche cheesecake with fig sorbet and basil—was another good dessert moment.”
Especially bad Top Chef desserts: “There are so many. On Season 2, Ilan made one of the worst things anyone ate in the history of Top Chef: chocolate ganache–coated liver for a Quick Fire Challenge. And on the Season 5 finale, Stefan made a lame chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t epically bad, but it was clichéd and disappointing.”
On whether Tom Colicchio will be a Just Desserts judge: “He’s a consultant on the show. But he’s not a pastry chef. Unless we do a savory challenge (!), Bravo is looking for judges who have more of a pastry spin.”