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Top Chef's Gail Simmons
Photo by Melanie Dunea

Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? This week, Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge and author of Talking with My Mouth Full, shares her favorite destinations and what she never leaves home without.

Name: Gail Simmons

Occupation: Food & Wine Special Projects Director and Bravo Top Chef Judge

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Residence: NYC


Twitter: @GailSimmons

Facebook: Gail Simmons

Short Bio: Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception, she has lent her expertise as a permanent judge on Bravo’s 2010 Emmy-winning hit series Top Chef, and is host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, its pastry- focused spin-off. Gail joined Food & Wine in 2004 and directs special projects for the magazine. Prior to joining Food & Wine, Gail was the special events manager for Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire. She trained in the kitchens of Le Cirque 2000 and Vong restaurants, and worked for esteemed food critic Jeffrey Steingarten at Vogue. Her first book, entitled Talking with My Mouth Full, was published in February 2012 (Hyperion). She lives in New York with her husband, Jeremy.

How often do you fly: Approximately 3 times a month

How many countries have you been to: Approximately 40

How many continents have you been to: 5 of 7

Favorite American city: NYC or New Orleans

Favorite international city: Tokyo or Barcelona

Least favorite country: None!

Favorite World Heritage Site: Antigua, Guatemala, or the Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Favorite airline: Singapore Airlines

Aisle or window: Window

Favorite airport lounge: Singapore

Favorite international airport: None – who likes airports?!

Favorite hotel: Nam Hai in Hanoi, Vietnam or Blackberry Farm in Wallund, TN

Favorite cruise line: Top Chef the Cruise on Celebrity!

Favorite island: Bali

Favorite fancy restaurant: Daniel (NYC)

Favorite hole in the wall: Quan 94 (aka Thuy Restaurant 94) in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), best crab shack on earth.

Favorite fruit: Mangosteen

Favorite food: Dark chocolate

Least favorite food: Black beans

Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): It changes weekly, but right now it’s a dark & stormy

Favorite travel movie(s): The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Lost in Translation

Favorite travel show(s): Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods

Favorite travel book(s): The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, Drifters by James A. Michener

Right now I am reading: Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson

Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines: Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine

Favorite travel website(s) – besides, of course!:

Five things you bring on a plane: Magazines, ipad, a bar of dark chocolate, scarf

What do you always seem to forget: My hairbrush

Favorite travel iPhone app(s): Tripit

Most embarrassing travel moment: Forgetting my passport at home during my book tour between Chicago and Toronto and having to fly back to NYC at the last minute in between to get it….

What’s your dream destination: Argentina, Brazil, Turkey

Favorite travel charity:

Best travel tip:  You can’t plan to be spontaneous, but it’s always those unexpected moments in travel that create the best memories, so remember to allow yourself the time for them. Also, always leave a little room in your suitcase, you never know what treasures you may find along the way.


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