© Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY

Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons Makes A Romesco-Style Gazpacho

October 26, 2017

Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer, and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception in 2006, she has lent her extensive expertise as a permanent judge on BRAVO’s Emmy-winning series Top Chef. Heading into its 15th successful season, Top Chef is rated the #1 food show on cable television. Gail was previously head critic on Top Chef Masters and host of Top Chef Just Desserts, Bravo’s pastry-focused spinoff of the Top Chef franchise. She was also co-host of The Feed, which aired in 2014 on FYI.

Her first cookbook, Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating, will be released by Grand Central Publishing on October 24, 2017. It features recipes inspired by Gail’s world travels-all made with accessible ingredients and with smart, simple techniques for successful family meals and easy entertaining.

Gail joined Food & Wine magazine in 2004, where she directs special projects, working closely with the country’s top culinary talent and acting as liaison between the marketing and editorial teams on events and chef-related initiatives.

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Gail moved to New York City in 1999 to attend culinary school at what is now the Institute of Culinary Education. She then trained in the kitchens of legendary Le Cirque 2000 and groundbreaking Vong restaurants, and worked as the assistant to Vogue magazine’s esteemed food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. Throughout her career, Gail has contributed to several cookbooks, including It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by Steingarten, Chef Daniel Boulud: Cooking in New York City and The New American Chef, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Gail’s first book, a memoir titled Talking With My Mouth Full, was published by Hyperion in February 2012.

In 2014, Gail and her business partner Samantha Hanks, founded Bumble Pie Productions, an original content company dedicated to discovering and promoting new female voices in the food and lifestyle space. Their first series, ‘Star Plates’-a collaboration with Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and Authentic Entertainment-premiered in Fall 2016 on the Food Network.

In addition to her work on Top Chef, Gail makes frequent television appearances on NBC’s TODAY, ABC’s Good Morning America, and Fox & Friends, among others. She is regularly featured in such publications as New York magazine, Travel + Leisure, GQ, People, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and was named the #1 Reality TV Judge in America by the New York Post. Along with her annual appearance at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, she makes regular appearances at the nation’s foremost culinary festivals, including the Austin Food & Wine Festival and South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

In February 2013, Gail was appointed Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Babson College, a mentoring role where she works with student entrepreneurs, helping them develop food-related social enterprises. In April 2016, she received the Award of Excellence by Spoons Across America, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating children about the benefits of healthy eating. She is an active board member and supporter of City Harvest, Hot Bread Kitchen, Common Threads, and the Institute of Culinary Education.

Gail currently lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy and daughter, Dahlia Rae.

Romesco-Style Gazpacho

Serves 4 to 6

2 ½ cups cubed baguette
Cold water
1/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted raw almonds
2 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large roasted red pepper (from a jar), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Gazpacho Toppings (Coarsely chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped scallions, thin strips of serrano ham, prosciutto, or speck, finely chopped cucumber, quartered cherry or grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped toasted almonds, finely chopped shallot, finely chopped red bell pepper, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives), Optional

Heat the oven to 350ºF.

Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and add cold water to cover; let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the almonds on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Drain and firmly squeeze the bread to remove the excess liquid. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, puree the drained bread, toasted almonds, tomatoes, red pepper, vinegar, garlic, paprika, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil.

Chill the soup until very cold, at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin slightly if needed. To serve, sprinkle with toppings and black pepper, and drizzle with oil.