Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater

Food for Thought: Summer Reading

Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater

By Gail Simmons (Hyperion, $26.99, 270 pp)

Gail Simmons would probably be the first to acknowledge that she is the least famous of the three judges on Bravo's Top Chef. While people have gushed over Padma Lakshmi's voluptuous good looks and Tom Colicchio's lovable crankiness, Simmons has confidently asserted her expertise on the show without garnering much chatter, apart from gossipy speculations about whether she's pregnant, or simply gained weight. Talking With My Mouth Full, then, enacts a correction to that relative silence, recounting the career trajectory that landed her at Judges' Table for nine seasons of Top Chef and as host of Top Chef: Just Desserts.

Simmons' voice is approachable and eminently readable; she seems like a very likable person, someone who'd be fun to share a bottle of wine and a leisurely meal with. That said, the audience for this memoir is probably quite narrow, limited to Top Chef fans, or Food & Wine magazine fans, or food writers looking for a role model. (Simmons went to culinary school to lay the groundwork for her food journalism career.) Simmons' chatty reflections swing from engrossing, including her thoughts on the online sniping about her weight, to eye-roll-worthy, such as when she declares that she and her fellow Top Chef judges "don't take the responsibility lightly." It's a reality show, for crying out loud, not the search for a cure for cancer. That said, this memoir would make for a breezy companion in the car or airplane en route to some fabulous vacation destination, one that, it goes without saying, will feature exquisite food.

Get ready for Best of Austin: Restaurants! Voting begins June 30 in the Readers Poll. Find out more at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Food Reviews
Restaurant Review: Birdie’s
Restaurant Review: Birdie's
A neighborhood restaurant, for some

Melanie Haupt, May 6, 2022

Restaurant Review: JewBoy Sub Shop
Restaurant Review: JewBoy Sub Shop
Remembrance of subs past

Melanie Haupt, Feb. 18, 2022

More by Melanie Haupt
The Return of Hot Luck
The Return of Hot Luck
Aaron Franklin’s food and music fest is about more than just chilling with your homies

May 20, 2022

Five Years After Miguel Ravago's Death, Fonda San Miguel Names New Chefs
Five Years After Miguel Ravago's Death, Fonda San Miguel Names New Chefs
Blanca Zesati and Carlos Monroy tasked with expanding classic menu

May 5, 2022

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle