Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater

( 12 )

Overview

When Top Chef judge Gail Simmons first graduated from college, she felt hopelessly lost. All her friends were going to graduate school, business school, law school . . . but what was she going to do? Fortunately, a family friend gave her some invaluable advice-make a list of what you love to do, and let that be your guide. Gail wrote down four words:

Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.

Little did she know, those four words would become the basis for a ...

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Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater

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Overview

When Top Chef judge Gail Simmons first graduated from college, she felt hopelessly lost. All her friends were going to graduate school, business school, law school . . . but what was she going to do? Fortunately, a family friend gave her some invaluable advice-make a list of what you love to do, and let that be your guide. Gail wrote down four words:

Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.

Little did she know, those four words would become the basis for a career as a professional eater, cook, food critic, magazine editor, and television star. Today, she's the host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, permanent judge on Top Chef, and Special Projects Director at Food & Wine magazine. She travels all over the world, eats extraordinary food, and meets fascinating people. She's living the dream that so many of us who love to cook and eat can only imagine. But how did she get there?

Talking with My Mouth Full follows her unusual and inspiring path to success, step-by-step and bite-by-bite. It takes the reader from her early years, growing up in a household where her mother ran a small cooking school, her father made his own wine, and family vacation destinations included Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East; through her adventures at culinary school in New York City and training as an apprentice in two of New York's most acclaimed kitchens; and on to her time spent assisting Vogue's legendary food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, working for renowned chef Daniel Boulud, and ultimately landing her current jobs at Food & Wine and on Top Chef. The book is a tribute to the incredible meals and mentors she's had along the way, examining the somewhat unconventional but always satisfying journey she has taken in order to create a career that didn't even exist when she first started working toward it.

With memorable stories about the greatest (and worst) dishes she's eaten, childhood and behind-the-scenes photos, and recipes from Gail's family and her own kitchen, Talking with My Mouth Full is a true treat.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Bravo TV fans know Gail Simmons best as the lively taste judge on the Emmy-winning winning Top Chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts, but as this appetizing memoir demonstrates, she wasn't always a well-paid professional eater. Talking with My Mouth Full traces her career from a young Toronto cook and food writer to her kitchen apprenticeship in the New York kitchens of the prestigious Cirque 2000 and Vong restaurants. The memoir doesn't stop there: It offers telling glimpses into the world of Chef Daniel Boulud and the inner workings of Food & Wine magazine. A nutritious mouthful indeed.

Edward Ash-Milby

Publishers Weekly
In this entertaining memoir, Simmons, a judge on the reality television series Top Chef chronicles her early love of eating and how her passion became a professional calling, landing her in the center of America’s obsession with all things food. Following graduation from Montreal’s McGill University and unsure about her future, Simmons headed home to Toronto. Securing a newspaper job, she pushed to write food stories. Her editor offered her important advice. “You need a point of view, a way to differentiate yourself. Forget about writing for a while. Go learn how to cook and how to eat.” She attended culinary school, then worked at Le Cirque. Moving on, she landed a job as assistant to Vogue’s food editor, a glamorous and messy position: “To this day, I’m sure I’m the only person ever to attend a Vogue meeting with Anna Wintour with goose fat running down my Old Navy T-shirt and onto my Levi’s.” Simmons reveals the complex backstage choreography unfolding nightly in top flight restaurants and rewards readers with glimpses of the eye-popping Aspen Food & Wine Classic. The author candidly deconstructs the world of reality television and the phenomenon of Top Chef. (Mar.)
Giada de Laurentiis
"Reading Gail's Simmons's memoir was like having a cappuccino and biscotti with one of my close girlfriends. What a treat!"
Jacques Pepin
"In Talking with My Mouth Full, Gail Simmons takes us through her culinary voyage from her gentle upbringing in a food-obsessed family in Toronto to her present culinary star status. In a clear, firm, and concise style, she leads us through her journey from an apprentice and trainee at culinary school to Le Cirque to Vogue and Food & Wine magazine and, ultimately, to her leading role on food television. Her remembrances are a tasty, delightful treat to savor."
David Chang
"Gail's book impressively mixes memoir with recent culinary history, and has great recipes, too. Above all, she makes it abundantly clear that passion for food - and hard work - always wins out."
Eric Ripert
"Gail Simmons is fearless, passionate and driven, yet she is humble, generous and stays true to the good values that she embraces. This book is inspiring for anyone who dreams about living their passion and finding fulfillment in their work. Talking with My Mouth Full is a joyful account of Gail's journey from her start as a line cook to her work at Food & Wine magazine and of course her role on Top Chef."
From the Publisher
"Reading Gail's Simmons's memoir was like having a cappuccino and biscotti with one of my close girlfriends. What a treat!"—Giada de Laurentiis, author of Giada at Home

"In Talking with My Mouth Full, Gail Simmons takes us through her culinary voyage from her gentle upbringing in a food-obsessed family in Toronto to her present culinary star status. In a clear, firm, and concise style, she leads us through her journey from an apprentice and trainee at culinary school to Le Cirque to Vogue and Food & Wine magazine and, ultimately, to her leading role on food television. Her remembrances are a tasty, delightful treat to savor."—Jacques Pepin, author of Essential Pepin

"Gail's book impressively mixes memoir with recent culinary history, and has great recipes, too. Above all, she makes it abundantly clear that passion for food - and hard work - always wins out."—David Chang, Chef/Owner of Momofuku

"Gail Simmons is fearless, passionate and driven, yet she is humble, generous and stays true to the good values that she embraces. This book is inspiring for anyone who dreams about living their passion and finding fulfillment in their work. Talking with My Mouth Full is a joyful account of Gail's journey from her start as a line cook to her work at Food & Wine magazine and of course her role on Top Chef."—Eric Ripert, Executive Chef/Co-Owner, Le Bernardin

Kirkus Reviews
From the popular judge and host of Top Chef, a memoir of a life devoted to the romance of food and the business of restaurants. To her credit, Simmons notes that she has led a fortunate life, in which her career "coincided, serendipitously, with a widespread boom in enthusiasm about the culinary world." The author grew up as the child of South African and Canadian Jewish parents in Montreal, circumstances which instilled in her a cultural curiosity and desire to travel. Uncertain how to build a career as a food writer, Simmons began with local lifestyle magazines, and soon moved to New York, where she took the unusual step of attending cooking school, then worked briefly on the lines at renowned restaurants Le Cirque 2000 and Vong (which gave her authority later in the media world). She received fortuitous boosts from luminaries like Daniel Boulud and Jeffrey Steingarten, culminating in positions at Food & Wine, which led to her selection by Bravo for Top Chef. The show quickly became popular, as did the spin-off Just Desserts, which she hosts (an experience she describes as surprising in its challenges and 14-hour days). Simmons describes the shows in terms that are specific about the complexities and stress of their production, but not hugely revelatory otherwise--e.g., "On Top Chef, we typically only see chefs on their best behavior." Although each chapter opens with an evocative description of food or a meal, her writing is straightforward and relaxed. Many famous chefs make appearances, but readers looking for dirt or sensuous flights of foodie detail will be disappointed, and the chapters that focus on Simmons recent personal life are less engaging. The book is most appealing as a professional overview of the dining industry's explosive growth and public profile during the last decade, even during the recession. Some readers may wish the prose had a little more grit or character, but the book will surely appeal to Simmons' many fans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401324506
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 644,308
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer, and television personality. She is the Special Projects Director at Food & Wine magazine, and has been a permanent judge on Bravo's Emmy-winning series Top Chef, the number one food show on cable television, since the show's inception in 2006. Gail is also the host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, Bravo's pastry-focused spin-off. Born in Toronto, she now lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    What a delectable read! From Toronto to South Africa, NYC to Mon

    What a delectable read!
    From Toronto to South Africa, NYC to Montreal, Gail takes us all on her delicious and tender journey of self discovery.
    It's a lovely read about finding yourself and what you love to do. I loved every bit of this book--It's well written, engaging, thoughtful., funny and sensitive. Not just for Top Chef fans but anyone looking for a really great read about a smart, young woman's journey to be the one of the most well respected food personalities today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    A lot of people wonder "Who is Gail Simmons" & &qu

    A lot of people wonder "Who is Gail Simmons" & "How did she get to where she is today"? Our questions are answered in a fun and anecdotal tale of Gail's life's journey, from growing up in Toronto to her fateful accomplishments in the New York food world. I loved reading this book cover-to-cover. I have such an appreciation for Gail, her passion for food and her commitment to being true to who she is and where she comes from. Great job and can't wait to tell my friends and family about this must read book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    ‘Talking With My Mouth Full’ is not only a wonderful

    ‘Talking With My Mouth Full’ is not only a wonderful story of Gail’s life thus far, but also an ever-important reminder that hard work and determination are two necessary ingredients on the path to a rewarding and successful career. From the outside, Gail’s success on ‘Top Chef’ may appear to be nothing but luck – prompting many individuals to assume they too can achieve such success overnight. But her story reveals her path to reality television had to do much more to do with years of work, long nights, and, perhaps most importantly, trusting the doors that open along the way. This book is an enjoyable, light read with a powerful underlying message.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    As someone who subscribes to Food and Wine Magazine and enjoys w

    As someone who subscribes to Food and Wine Magazine and enjoys watching Top Chef, I was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, it reads like a marketing fluff piece. If the author was interviewing with you for a job, this might be the addendum to her resume. There is no meat in this book, like many other chef/foodie memoirs. It never goes below the surface of how much Gail Simmons enjoys her career and the people she works with. While I applaud her possitive attitude that is evident in the book, there is not much story here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    A Tasty Read!

    Well, if we use culinary parlance about books, I'd say that another author's book, MY BELOVED WORLD, needed to braise a tad longer, while Simmons' tome is ready-to-be-devoured, tasty ad fun. Actually, I wish this book were longer, because it was a delight to skip through. Simmons has a clear yet amusing way of relating her experiences, and after this I realized that I should have gone into the culinary arts as a career. I loved her regaling us about Peter Kump's culinary teachings: I remember that era well - I was a wife and mother and every time I read his ads I wanted to go to his school so badly, although I have joined the James Beard Foundation.

    Okay - this book is a great amuse-bouche: I hope Simmons serves up another!

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I liked this book alot because I love Top Chef and Top Chef Dess

    I liked this book alot because I love Top Chef and Top Chef Desserts. I enjoyed learning about how Gail's food journey began. The book is delightful for foodies. I highly recommend this book.

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