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

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,376 ratings  ·  216 reviews
When Top Chef judge Gail Simmons first graduated from college, she felt hopelessly lost. All her friends were going to graduate school, business school, law school . . . but what was she going to do? Fortunately, a family friend gave her some invaluable advice-make a list of what you love to do, and let that be your guide. Gail wrote down four words: Eat. Write. Travel. Co ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Hachette Books (first published 2012)
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3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,376 ratings  ·  216 reviews

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Jennifer Joelle
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I suspect that most people who are reading this book want to be Gail Simmons. Her demographic I would think would be women in their late 20s to early 40s or gay men. Regardless of who you are, I understand your thought process. What a sweet life.

Gail is charming, and adorably sexy in a non model, finally a real woman sort of way. She isn't conventional. She chased her dreams and acknowledges that she is lucky. For a foodie, she is someone who gets to live any other foodie's dream, and she has en
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Not terribly well-written but entertaining enough if you're a TC fan/fan of food writing.

What ticked me off about the book most was the massive disconnect between the book's jacket blurbs and its content. The jacket insisted this was the story of how "hard work always wins out."


I'm not saying working for Jeffrey Steingarten wasn't "trying," but in NO way, shape, or form did I get the impression from Simmons that hard work led to her success. In fact, time and again her story suggested
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really should be called “How I got my fabulous job.” Nothing wrong with that but feel free to skip the somewhat tedious childhood portion. If you’re a fellow McGill grad, like myself, start in Montreal, although it’s surprisingly lean on Montreal food. Otherwise, start with the move to NYC, which begins the road to her fabulous job. Smartest move she ever made was going to culinary school (sorry McGill). Peter Kump had the best placement office EVER. They got her into the best restaurants for he ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Only the most hardcore of Top Chef fans
The only reason I am guessing most people picked up this book -- myself included -- is because they wanted to hear about Top Chef from an insider.

Well, spoiler alert, only two chapters of this book deal with Top Chef -- Chapter Eleven: At the Judges' Table and Chapter Fourteen: Sugared Up on Just Desserts -- and one of those is about the uninspired pastry spin-off. Even then, neither are particularly interesting, as she spends most of the former defending their judging decisions (we were fair a
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I struggled with the beginning of this book but by the end I was on board. I found a lot of the more traditional memoir aspects a lot less interesting than the rest, especially in the first few chapters. I didn't end up caring about her family, her early life, or her schooling very much at all. I'm usually fairly sentimental about that kind of thing so I haven't quite been able to pinpoint why it felt flat to me. I've decided that those parts seem to rely a lot more on telling over showing. I im ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
My wife and I began watching Top Chef during its first season and have watched every episode of every iteration since. It's our thing. Every Wednesday night we make a batch of popcorn and plop down in front to watch some amazing chefs make some delicious looking food. And though I love Head Judge Tom Colicchio and I think host Padma Lakshmi does a wonderful job, Gail Simmons is really the heart of the show. I just love her comments and her love of food. Recently I got the chance to sit in on a c ...more
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I want to like Gail. She's a Toronto girl, who works in an industry that I've worked in. In some ways, she is living my dream - she lives in New York, spends her days with some of North America's Top Chefs (pun intended), assisted Jefferey Steingarten and travels everywhere to put delicious things in her mouth. I should want her life - but the way she describes it makes her seem more than a little clueless. This book is part "Oh, I'm so lucky that my family is so well connected," and part "I got ...more
Holly Booms Walsh
A simple, straightforward, humble memoir by Gail Simmons of Top Chef fame. She is earnest and rather adorable - and she tells her stories even when they make her look neurotic or odd. Her love of food and the geniuses that make amazing food shines clearly through the pages. I love the recipes at the end that refer back to her stories of growing up and getting married.
I spent half of this book trying to figure out how a food writer could be so completely inept at writing about food (and writing, period), until I got to the chapters about the author's time at Food & Wine Magazine and realized that she's actually an event planner with chef's training, not a food writer. Don't they describe her on Top Chef as a food writer? In any case, the book isn't very good. Three stars is a pretty generous rating, but the book is redeemed by the fact that Gail Simmons h ...more
This sounded like it would be an inspiring read for any foodie on how to make their dream come true doing their favorite thing in the whole world: eating. Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater presents Gail Simmons' journey to her coveted career as a professional eater. Unfortunately, it is presented in such a dull, mundane way that it does little to inspire. The most interesting part is her time spent in her exhausting externship, which is a very small part in the entire b ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of food-based memoirs, and this one was one of the most interesting I've come across. Gail Simmons has traveled along a very unusual career path, including culinary school, hands-on kitchen work, magazine work, event coordinating, and, of course, TV work in connection with Top Chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts. I really enjoyed her stories about her family life as a young girl and particularly her mother's work in the kitchen. As a rabid Top Chef fan, I loved the chapters about the s ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Meh. Simmons' life story is interesting enough, but she is clearly not a food writer (which I thought she was for some reason...) I honestly expected to be ravenous as she described her different experiences with food--which, seriously, if you subtitle your book as 'Life as a Professional Eater', is not asking that much. The reality was that she just listed off meals without much fanfare. I personally enjoyed her lists of food in Spain, but only because I brought my own experiences to the table. ...more
Lauren orso
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read2012
The moral is, that if you come from (enough!) money which furnishes you with (enough!) luck, you can do anything. What separates Gail Simmons from Mitt Romney, then, is she is charming in a quietly Canadian way (but PLEASE stop saying boobs, or cut back to every other page). But still, you'll notice every time she does not get something she wants, it 1. turns into a Major Life Event, and 2. she cries about it. Diners have weird omelettes, and this is ingrained in the collective knowledge of our ...more
M Christopher
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Gail Simmons has certainly led an interesting, even a charmed life. In fact, she's a real charmer as well. She comes off as a truly likable person in her memoir, which isn't surprising given her on-screen personna. What is surprising is that there is very little of the naughty wit which she occasionally airs on TV evident in this book. One is left thinking, what a nice little sister, what a nice neighbor, what a nice mom of my kid's friend, but not much of that twinkle in her eye that one gets o ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed reading it, this book was spotty. The first part describes a lot of Gail Simmons' (best known as a judge on Top Chef) early life, which I found interesting but not for as long as it went on in the bok. Still, it was good to see that she has solid credentials, having graduated from culinary school and worked in restaurants and the restaurant business before going on to write for Food and WIne and organize major food events. My favorite parts were the behind-the-scenes look at T ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Gail Simmons is known as one of the judges on Top Chef. If you like Top Chef, then you will like this book. If you don't like or don't watch Top Chef, you will wonder who she is. That being said, this book is not focused on her Top Chef time. It focuses on everything leading up to Top Chef. I really enjoyed learning about her actual experiences cooking in the kitchens of top restaurants. I had no idea she had this experience. An easy read if you want to learn more about Gail.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it
The writing was disappointing, particularly for someone who works for a magazine, but the insight into Simmons' life and career were perfectly enjoyable. Top Chef fans will definitely enjoy learning more about Simmons and some of the behind-the-scenes stories of the show. Simmons speaks respectfully of others, so there's no real scuttlebutt here, just tasty treats along the way.
Audrey Mccartney
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
A quick read. A memoir that includes, of course, some behind the scene stories from Top Chef. (I would have like more on that.) Some surprises from her childhood. She surely has led a charmed life! She seems to fall easily into dream jobs in the culinary world. Her description of the working of restaurants was the most helpful to me of any books I've ever read. Much more than Anthony Bourdain.
Renan Lopes
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Gail é aquela amiga de escola que chora por ter tirado nove em vez de dez. Fofa, mas insuportável.

O livro é interessante aos que a admiram e não para fãs de Top Chef, uma vez que apenas dois capítulos do livro abordam o reality.
Jessie Weaver
I found Gail's memoir interesting, but it's all over the place. Very train-of-thought.
Sam Florio
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I usually don't read celebrity books because 99% of the time, they aren't the ones writing it. But I LOVE GAIL & Gail is a writer so I thought it would be great. IT IS great - if you are looking for Top Chef behind the scenes, small anecdotes, lessons learned & tidbits that will stick with you forever. There are stories of Gail's childhood & trips to South Africa, tales of traveling with her husband, Jermey, and cute anecdote about Tom & Padma. These were everything I wanted when ...more
Ann Boytim
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gail Simmons graduated from college not knowing what she really wanted to do with her life. Her mother wanted her to go to Law School but Gail was interested in writing about food. Gail truly loved eating and tasting a variety of foods and did her stint as a chef but as in many careers women have a harder time being a chef. Gail found her way through Food and Wine magazine and became a writer and a judge on Top Chef.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
This memoir details how she came from being a college graduate who had no idea what to do with her life to being an editor at Food & Wine magazine and a judge on the show Top Chef. The book covers her childhood in Canada and her family’s travels, to her leap into the food world and her experiences working at restaurants, being a personal assistant, and her leap into the editorial side of food. The book provides recipes that highlight key moments of her experiences.
Kelsey Haddenhorst
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun, easy read. For me the most interesting aspect of it is the look into the world of fine dining. If you love cooking & food this is a good light read. Also an interesting look into the world of Top Chef for fans.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun food-porn diversion, and boy did Gail deliver! Lists and descriptions of everything!!!. I love eating vicariously and am grateful I’m not a sensitive professional, offended by an imperfect brunoise.
Chaim Klein
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very pleasant read

Filled with humility and gratitude and good food as well. Nicely done example of food memoir. I hope Gail Simmons will continue her chronkcles
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable and fast read for those who work on the industry. I liked the part when she talks about being a woman on the food and wine related jobs.
Katie Arnup
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun quick read. Warning: don't read while hungry - the descriptions of meals are dangerous!
Meg Marie
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
An enjoyable memoir, if you like her on Top Chef you'll like all the behind the scenes.
Lanette Granger
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining read with insights into Top Chef and recipes to try out!
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