Chef profile: Gail Simmons
1 What tools do you use in your kitchen on a daily basis?
A flexible fish spatula, tongs, a few big tablespoons, a Global chef knife, Wusthof paring knife, Global off-set serrated knife, wooden spoon, All-Clad fine mesh strainer, KitchenAid immersion blender and colander, and a big, wooden Boos cutting board!
2 What tools do you love, but don't use quite as often?
I am obsessed with my raspberry colored KitchenAid Stand mixer but don’t use it as often as I wish I did. I was also given a beautiful All-Clad copper pot a few years back that I don’t put to enough use, as well as my Breville Espresso machine.
3 What is the one kitchen item you can't live without?
Le Creuset enamel cast iron round 9-quart Dutch Oven in bright orange, for all braises, soups and stews.
4 Describe your kitchen style.
Modern and clean lines, with stainless steel appliances, glass cabinets, custom slate grey wooden cupboards, subway tiles and Carrara marble countertops. And lots of sunlight and a big trough sink.
5 What are some of your favourite cookbooks?
I have hundreds of cookbooks. I collect them to the point that I have run out of space at home and my office is starting to close in on me. A few newer picks that I love right now:
- Sugar Shack Au Pied de Cochon by Martin Picard
- Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Jonathan Lovekin
- The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
- Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors by Andrea Nguyen
- Salad: Beyond the Bowl by Mindy Fox
- Fire in my Belly by Kevin Gillespie
- The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Castronovo, Frank Meehan, Peter Falcinelli
I love making soups and stews, braised meat and roasted vegetables of all kinds. I also love cooking Vietnamese and Thai food. When I bake, I am obsessed with fruit tarts in summer and anything involving chocolate and peanut butter in winter.
7 What food item are you obsessing over right now?
Red Boat fish sauce, Minus 8 ice wine vinegar and any kind of pure Canadian maple syrup.
8 Favourite spice/herb?
Herb: Tarragon; Spice: Aleppo pepper
9 Strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Deep-fried larvae from a Thai night market.
10 Best dish you've ever eaten?
I couldn’t possibly choose just one. But the first thing that comes to mind is a simple freshly made ravioli in butter, covered with white truffles at Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire in Paris a few years ago. It was transporting and perfect.
11 Favourite childhood food?
Warm, soft-boiled eggs in my mom’s special eggcups, with slices of buttered toast that we called “soldiers.”
12 Favourite food destination?
New Orleans, Barcelona, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City.
13 Tea or coffee?
Coffee – especially La Colombe espresso, preferably as an Americano with a dollop of steamed milk and one sugar.
14 Biggest guilty pleasure (food wise)?
I don’t eat them often enough to really feel guilty about it but I absolutely LOVE spicy chicken wings. And salt and vinegar chips!
Inside a top chef’s kitchen
Take a sneak peek at some of the items Gail Simmons says she can’t live without in her kitchen:
1 Global 7-in. Chef's Knife, cookworks.ca, $125.
2 All-Clad 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Strainer Set, Williams-Sonoma, $99.95.
3 Boos Edge-Grain Maple Cutting Boards, Williams-Sonoma.com, $30-$80.
4 KitchenAid 2 Speed Immersion Blender, Canadian Tire, $69.99.
5 KitchenAid Professional 600 Stand Mixer, Williams-Sonoma, $570.
6 Le Creuset Signature Round Wide Dutch Oven, Williams-Sonoma, $380.
7 KitchenAid Colander, 5 qt., Canadian Tire, $9.99.