ICE: Do you need to know hands-on cooking in your role at Top Chef? Gail:
Not at Top Chef. But my role in everything I do, certainly. I donít think I could have gotten my job on Top Chef if I didnít really understand food. Many viewers think that judging is just people being flippant, itís what I like or I donít like, and itís all personal. Judging food is actually very scientific: knowing if meat is cooked to the correct temperature, knowing if the knife skills are correct, knowing if the vegetables were julienned the right way and consistently, seasoned well. All the factors that you look for really do take a deep understanding of the science of cooking. So, yes, I guess on Top Chef, too, it certainly helped.
Could someone judge the show without a culinary background? Absolutely. We have guest judges who arenít professional chefs. Padma Lakshmi, our host, has no culinary training. But the fact that I do and that Tom Colicchio does allows other people to not have it. So, yes, I think it certainly gives me legitimacy. Tom obviously comes from a chef perspective. Iím not. Iím more of an educated diner, a professional diner. I look for things that a regular diner might not look for. Both views are valid but you need all of those views to make up the judges table. I guess my answer would be yes, that my purpose is there because I have a knowledge of food and culinary training for sure. And everything I do at Food & Wine as well: I do a lot of cooking demos, I do a lot of press now as part of my job, I do a segment once a month with CBSís the Early Show, I also do a lot of cooking demos at events all over the country. The Institute of Culinary Education: Articles & Interviews