I was an early Top Chef fan; I watched the first five seasons and the”All-Stars” season but now I mostly catch a few episodes during inevitable Bravo marathons. That being said, I am not a foodie- although I do love to cook. My husband recently commented that I’ve gotten “so much better” with my pickiness because I use more than salt & pepper when I cook now; plus I’ll eat salsa and red meat (besides burgers).
The truth is I wish I liked the foods on the cooking shows I watch or the recipes I Pin but my pallet was set long ago by a mother who indulged my desire to only eat cheese pizza and plain hamburgers. I was stubborn so in the end it was easier for her to give in; plus my dad doesn’t like olives, mushrooms, tomatoes or fish either so I had someone on my side…
Anyway, Gail had basically the opposite upbringing. Born in Canada to a Jewish mother, with a passion for cooking, and a South African father, with a passion for travel, Gail had a comfortable upbringing filled with a variety of food from across the world. After she graduated from college she was a little unsure of her next step so a family friend asked her what interested her; Gail wrote “Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.” She managed to land a job at Toronto Life where she discovered that writing about food was an actual job. She took the advice of a food editor and went to culinary school to increase her cooking & food knowledge.
“If you want to write about food, you need to learn about food,’ he said. “You need to know your beat. If you want to write about politics, you go to Washington. If you want to write about war, you go to the front lines. If you want to write about food, you need to speak the language. You need a point of view, a way to differentiate yourself…”
Her ensuing career path is fascinating. After culinary school in New York she worked on the line at two different restaurants, followed by two years as the assistant to Vogue’s food critic and then as a special events manager for Daniel Boulud. After all these various experiences she landed her the two roles that she is best known: her career at Food & Wine magazine and her position as judge on Top Chef.
If you’re a Top Chef fan and looking for insider information this is not the memoir for you. While she shares a few chapters about her time in front of the camera the focus on this book is her journey to where she is now. That being said, I don’t think you need to be a Top Chef fan to enjoy this one!