Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater" by Gail Simmons

Dear Gail: You made it abundantly clear that you dislike bloggers, perhaps even hate them, so I apologize in advance for this post.  Just pretend it doesn't exist.  (This should be an easy feat for you.)

I'm one of those people that is totally obsessed with the Food Network, even though the chances of me actually eating something made on the show are slim to none.  Although onions make me cringe and I prefer my meat to come in plastic packaging, the allure of someone who is passionate about their craft is something I just can't get enough of.  And so I picked up this book.

Summary:  First of all, Gail Simmons is Canadian.  Canadian!  I should have known, as the vast majority of my favorite reality stars come from Canada.  But love of the great peaceful North aside, Gail (if I may presume to call her so) has led a fascinating and somewhat charmed life.

Gail grew up as the youngest child of three, to parents that had a plethora of international flair.  Her father's people came from South Africa and her mother worked for the UN before she settled into motherhood and working from home so she could be more available for her children.  Her parents exposed Gail and her brothers to a wide variety of food and instilled in them a sense of competitiveness and fearlessness that helped Gail forge a dream career before the field even existed.  "Talking With My Mouth Full" explores Gail's early childhood and young adulthood and their impacts on her love for food before diving into her early careers as a chef at some of New York's finest restaurants.  Her experience as a New York chef, along with a side of luck, led her into what is arguably a tough but amazing series of jobs.

Gail Simmons is most popularly known for her work with Food and Wine magazine, as a judge on Top Chef and host of Top Chef: Just Desserts.  (And probably more, but I haven't had time to watch tv since 2010 so you'll have to trust google on this.)

My Thoughts:  Each time I read a book by a celebrity chef (or in this case celebrity foodie) I find myself pleasantly surprised.  I'm not sure what I expect going into them, but I generally find that the chef/foodies are passionate, charismatic and generally really interesting people.  Gail Simmons is no exception.

I loved the stories Gail told about her family.  Her mom seems like a quintessential role model - supportive, interesting but with enough motherly expectation to keep her kids in line.  I'd love to read her biography some day.  Her father is no less fabulous - a South African lawyer who enjoys brewing his own beer, making pickles and adventure.  With parents like these, how could Gail be anything but fascinating herself?  (This is a rhetorical question.  I have fascinating parents and am particularly boring myself.  It happens.)

I also loved reading about how Gail's career unfolded, from culinary student who wanted to write about food, to culinary graduate who understand that to truly be an expert on food writing, she'd need to experience food at a much deeper level than just eating it.

Rating:  This would be a good book to bring on vacation.  It's a good read (although doesn't quite catch my fancy enough to read again.)

Also Read By:  None.  But check out our reviews on books by other celebrity chefs!  Kitchen Confidential

Reviewed By:  Tami

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