Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life As A Professional Eater
By Gail Simmons
I remember watching the first season of Top Chef and wondering who Gail Simmons was. This book puts an end to that mystery. She may be living the dream life for many foodies, but there was a lot of hard work on her part before she reached Top Chef.
Ms. Simmons’ mother ran a cooking school out of the family’s home in Toronto. Even though she was raised to appreciate fine food, a career in that arena wasn’t her first choice. She has a degree in humanistic studies, which she admits is tailored for people who don’t really know what they want to do. After graduating from college a family friend urged her to write down what she really wanted to do. Four words became the guiding lights in her life. Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.
With her goals firmly in place she set out to achieve them. First stop was cooking school in New York City. This was followed by stints as a line cook, assistant to food critic Jeffery Steingarten, working in famed chef Daniel Boulud’s organization and finally onto the staff of Food & Wine Magazine. She still works for Food & Wine as well as working on the Top Chef television shows.
The tone of this book was very easy and conversational, like sitting down with Ms. Simmons and chatting about her life. There are mouth-watering descriptions of meals as well as details about trips to places like Spain and Israel. I love books like this since they give me a chance to explore foods and foreign countries without spending the money or even leaving my comfortable chair. Her account of picking up a hot pan in a busy kitchen, leaving behind burns that made her fingers resemble frog toe pads, made my heart go out to her. As a fan of cooking shows, that incident really demonstrated to me how rough life in a busy, demanding restaurant can be. There are also glimpses into her personal life, touching on boyfriends and even her brother’s struggles with mental illness, which show that even the most devoted foodie has a life outside food. There are a handful of simple recipes also included, like Zucchini Bread and her father’s famous full-sour pickles. I found this to be an interesting look at the life of a rising foodie star.