In addition to her duties on the Emmy-winning Bravo show, Simmons is special projects director at our sister magazine Food & Wine, an author, and a mom. When she’s not concocting delicious dishes, she’s known to whip up a beauty product or two: “We shot in Palm Springs recently, and it was so dry,” she says. “I made my own lip scrub with coarse brown sugar, honey, and a little citrus zest.” Catch what else Simmons is cooking up when Top Chef returns in December.
Cooking Light: How has your beauty philosophy changed over the years?
Gail Simmons: It’s all about fast, quick, convenience. But, as the years go on, I’ve started paying more attention to my skin and really taking care of it in the sun, and making sure my moisturizer contains SPF all year around. I no longer have a problem using a high SPF! I have pretty sensitive skin, and so does my daughter, so taking care of our skin is a priority.
CL: What’s your favorite food-related ingredient or scent in beauty products? Why?
GS: I tend to not like a lot of sweet smells in terms of beauty products. Fig is great! I often gravitate toward very grassy and “green”-smelling items, like Jo Malone’s English Pear and Freesia. Outside of food-centered fragrances, tuberose is my favorite smell on earth. It’s fresh, extotic, and reminds me of trips to Indonesia. It’s such a particular scent that I love. La Labo makes a perfume oil in roller ball form that fits in my bag and stays on longer.
CL: Tell me more about the upcoming season of Top Chef.
GS: This season is the 10-year anniversary of shooting, and it’s basically a road trip through California. We went to five different cities across the state, changing location every two or three episodes. We’re on the move more than ever! It allowed us to do so many things with the chefs, keeping them on their toes, changing their landscape and the sources for where a lot of their food comes from. We just aimed to keep inspiring them with the locations and regional specialties. There’s a big difference in the food and bounty of southern and northern California. We really got to explore the state’s nuances. It was a great adventure for us, too! It was incredible for us to look back at 10 years of making this show and see how much the restaurant world has changed and how we were part of that change. People now travel just to eat at particular restaurants, and we’ve created more educated eaters. That’s been the biggest reward.
CL: What are you cooking up these days?
GS: I love the fall! Fall harvest is exciting. You get mushrooms, a whole bunch of new greens. It’s the beginning of great root veg season and early fall fruit. The first apples of the season, which I love using in savory food, not just in dessert. I like to make braised apples with pork or throw tart, thinly sliced apples in a salad with greens and a bright vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Ooh…and a musty cheese.
Find out What’s in Gail Simmons’ Beauty Bag
“I spend so much time on TV talking about food, but I still have to get dressed and look good,” Simmons says. ” I spend a lot of time thinking about it–if I want to or not.” I asked Simmons to share what products she loves to put on:
1 FLOWER EYES ON THE PRIZE EYE SHADOW CHUBBY Having time to carefully apply shadow is a luxury I’ve had to give up, but this one is smooth, fast, and affordable. $8, walmart.com
2 CLINIQUE MOISTURIZING LIP COLOUR BALM These give a pop of color and have a matte texture without being sticky. My favorite shades are Mighty Mimosa and Heaping Hazelnut. $17, clinique.com
3 TARTE AMAZONIAN CLAY 12-HOUR BLUSH I love a rosy cheek, and this one is healthy and a natural mineral makeup. $28, tarte.com
4 AQUAPHOR LIP REPAIR I go through tubs of Aquaphor with my daughter, and I always have a tube in my bag. This is the only thing that really cures my dry lips. $4.50, discoveraquaphor.com
5 AVA ANDERSON AVASKIN NIGHT SERUM I love the grapefruit smell, and it feels good on my skin. This line is made by a young woman with an amazing story. She developed the line in college aiming to offer environemntally responsible products that were more natural with no toxins. $30, avaandersonnontoxic.com
6 CLÉ DE PEAU CONCEALER I can never leave the house without concealer. This is the best I’ve ever used. $70, cledepeaubeaute.com
7 LA PRAIRIE LUXE EYE LINER This is my favorite eyeliner, and I have it in black and brown. It’s a refillable automatic pencil so you can buy refills instead of buying whole thing, so that cuts down on splurge price over time. It goes on so smoothly and easily, which makes it easy to make it super-thin. $50, laprairie.com
8 URBAN DECAY DE-SLICK MATIFYING POWDER I just discovered this powder compact. It’s really white, but don’t let it scare you. I just put a small amount on a brush over my makeup as the last thing I do. It completely takes off all shine. $32, urbandecay.com