About the Judges
Curtis Stone is a celebrity chef, best-selling author, TV personality, and entrepreneur. When it comes to cooking, his philosophy is to cook as Mother Nature intended: buy locally produced seasonal & organic ingredients, keep recipes simple, and allow the food to speak for itself.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Curtis left Victoria University in 1994 at the age of 18 to follow his passion for food. His strong will and love for quality cuisine led to a job cooking at The Savoy Hotel. Once a qualified chef, Curtis began travelling throughout Europe with his best mate. Three months into his travels Curtis arrived in London, broke and in need of a job. Determined to fulfil his dream of working in the world’s best restaurants, he walked into legendary Chef Marco Pierre White’s kitchen and offered to work for free in exchange for the opportunity to work alongside the three-star Michelin genius. After proving his worth, Curtis was brought on staff and remained at The Grill Room at Café Royal for two years.
From Marco’s Grill Room, Curtis advanced to Sous Chef at the Mirabelle where he contributed to the restaurant’s highly revered Mirabelle Cookbook. Curtis remained at the Mirabelle for two years, during which time it was awarded a prestigious Michelin Star. Curtis was then handed the reins to Marco Pierre’s flagship restaurant, Quo Vadis, where he received critical acclaim and remained until 2003 when he made the leap to television. His first series Surfing The Menu ran for three seasons in 26 countries.
In 2006 Curtis made his debut in the United States via his own hit series Take Home Chef for TLC. The series has been a huge international success being viewed in over 70 countries around the world. More recently, Curtis has been seen on NBC’s hit series The Biggest Loser, teaching contestants how to make good nutritional choices and prepare healthy meals. He is also a regular contributor on The Today Show where he provides viewers with tips and delicious recipes to try at home. In addition, Curtis co-hosted NBC’s reality competition America’s Next Great Restaurant and took over as host of the third season of Food Network Canada’s hit series Top Chef Masters.
Curtis was the first chef to have an eponymous product line sold at the prestigious retailer Williams-Sonoma in the USA. His line of sleek and eco-friendly kitchen solutions is currently sold globally. The functional and stunning products have been praised in a variety of publications including The New York Times and O: The Oprah Magazine. The complete range of Kitchen Solutions is available on his website.
As the author of five cookbooks, Curtis has shared his culinary know-how with readers around the globe. “Surfing the Menu” and “Surfing the Menu Again”, penned with his friend and fellow Aussie chef Ben O’Donoghue, were followed by “Cooking with Curtis” (Pavilion 2005), a solo effort that celebrated seasonal fare and brought his chef’s expertise down to earth for the home cook. Setting out to prove that good food doesn’t need to be fussy, Curtis then released “Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favorite Mood” (Clarkson Potter 2009). Curtis launched his fifth cookbook, a New York Times best-seller, “What’s For Dinner?: Recipes for a Busy Life” in April 2013 (Ballantine).
Curtis has fostered long-term relationships with charities around the world, including Feeding America in the US, and Cottage by the Sea and Make-A-Wish in Australia. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Lindsay Price, son, Hudson, and golden retriever Sully. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, gardening, surfing—and cooking. For Curtis, cooking always brings fun. “There really is no better gift than a home-cooked meal and enjoying a good laugh around the table.”
Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer, and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception in 2006, she has lent her extensive expertise as a series judge on the Emmy Award-winning Food Network series Top Chef. Gail joins season five of Top Chef Masters as the new head critic, and was previously host of Top Chef Just Desserts, the pastry-focused spin-off of the Top Chef franchise. Gail also appeared as a special guest on season one of Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada.
Gail joined Food & Wine in 2004 and directs special projects for the magazine, acting as liaison between the marketing and editorial teams on magazine events and chef-related initiatives, working closely with some of America’s top culinary talent. During her tenure, she has been responsible for overseeing the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, America’s premier culinary event. Prior to Food & Wine, Gail was the special events manager for Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Gail moved to New York City in 1999 to attend culinary school at what is now the Institute of Culinary Education. She then trained in the kitchens of legendary Le Cirque 2000 and groundbreaking Vong restaurants, and worked for esteemed food critic Jeffrey Steingarten at Vogue. Throughout her career, Gail has contributed to several cookbooks, including “It Must’ve Been Something I Ate” by Steingarten, “Chef Daniel Boulud: Cooking in New York City” by Daniel Boulud, and “The New American Chef” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Gail’s first book, a own memoir titled “Talking With My Mouth Full,” was published by Hyperion in February 2012.
In addition to her work on Top Chef, Gail makes frequent television appearances on TODAY on NBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, and Fox & Friends, among others. She has been featured in such publications as New York Magazine, Travel + Leisure, GQ, People, TV Guide, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and was named the #1 Reality TV Judge in America by The New York Post. She also has appeared at America’s foremost culinary festivals, including the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and the New York City Wine & Food Festival, among others.
In February 2013, Gail was appointed Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Babson College, a mentoring role where works with student entrepreneurs to help develop their own enterprises through strategic marketing and communications. She is an active supporter of Common Threads, an organization that teaches low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals. She was also a founding member of Food & Wine’s Grow for Good Campaign and sits on the boards of City Harvest, Hot Bread Kitchen, the Institute of Culinary Education, and the Women at NBCU Advisory Board.
Gail currently lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy.