By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Media Services
6:33 PM EDT, August 16, 2011
"There is no difference between my job and my life," said "Top Chef Just Desserts" host Gail Simmons. "It's one big blur, and it's all delicious. I travel and seek out great food. That's kind of how I plan my trips and my life." Born in Toronto and residing in New York City, the 35-year-old TV personality, who also handles special projects for Food and Wine magazine, studied at the Institute of Culinary Education and worked in the kitchens of the Vong restaurants and Le Cirque 2000. Her memoir, "Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater," will hit stores next year.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: About a year ago I went to Bali, and it was pretty special. It was a great balance of seeing all the historic elements of the country and experiencing a truly relaxing vacation, and it didn't feel frivolous. I loved experiencing the culture and meeting the people.
Q: What places have you visited where the food really stood out?
A: There've been so many places, but Barcelona, Tokyo and Singapore all have wonderful food. In the last several years, I've really been enjoying the food scene in London. Capetown is gorgeous; I had great meals there. Anywhere in Vietnam.
Q: Can you share some of your favorite dessert spots?
A: I love any dessert that Elizabeth Falkner makes at Citizen Cake (citizencake.com) in San Francisco. In Los Angeles, I'm crazy for Jordan Kahn's avante garde treats at Red Medicine (redmedicinela.com). He's a trailblazer! The key-lime pie at Smoke (smokerestaurant.com) in Dallas is really great. The chocolate at Dude, Sweet (dudesweetchocolate.com) is so good. I love Mindy Segal's Hot Chocolate (hotchocolatechicago.com) in Chicago. They have fantastic desserts. And One Girl Cookies (onegirlcookies.com) in Brooklyn makes my favorite whoopie pies.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been?
A: I really want to go to Buenos Aires, Thailand and Charleston, S.C. My dream trip would be to go see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
Q: Have you ever eaten your way through a city?
A: I've been known to do food crawls. In Tokyo, I was so in awe of all the food available at all price points that I was eating about every 20 minutes. I'd see a long line at a bakery and would have to stop in to see what the fuss was all about. Then I'd see a nice ramen noodle place and would try that out.
Q: What do you travel with?
A: I always take my pale pink, soft cashmere scarf. It's kind of my security blanket when I travel, even in the summer because I'm always cold on airplanes.
Q: What is your worst vacation memory?
A: My husband and I flew to Italy to meet my parents, who had rented a house outside Cortona. Our luggage didn't arrive until a few days after we did. We had a dinner at a fancy restaurant for the day after we arrived, and we had to go in our ugly sweatpants and T-shirts that we had just traveled in because there was nowhere we could buy anything. The house we were in was also kind of horrible. We ended up going to Florence and changing our holiday. The trip started off pretty shaky, but it ended up pretty great.
For more from the reporter, visit jaehakim.com.
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