Gail Simmons is a very cool human being. While many know her best from Top Chef, her career in food expands way beyond a judge’s table. She trained at culinary school and went on to assist legendary food writer and columnist Jeffrey Steingarten. She also worked the line in busy New York City restaurants and is the author of two books, including her latest, Bringing It Home. In this very candid conversation, Simmons shares her story—from living in Montreal and Israel to working in the kitchens of Daniel Boulud for three years. Also, Smitten Kitchen founder Deb Perelman answers a reader question: If you had to write a cookbook based on one ingredient, what would it be?