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VINE VOICEon March 27, 2012
I had the privilege of attending a book signing with Gail Simmons hosted by Tom Colicchio, and at that event Tom described this book as a "love letter to food" and the culinary industry. I don't think a more succinct, accurate description of this book could possibly be found.

Full disclosure: I am a confirmed Top Chef fanatic, and Gail is probably my favorite judge. She has the best shoes, at any rate (sorry Tom). My partner and I saw her give a cooking demo in Bryant Park before Christmas, and we both eagerly attended the aforementioned signing. So one could make the case that I am biased when it comes to Gail--was, in fact, inclined to enjoy Talking with My Mouth Full no matter what she wrote inside.

To that I would respond that I am not without my criticisms of this book. There's an awkward sentence here and there. She has an overwhelming tendency to list things--at one point spending at least a page and a half going through the ingredients and foods one could encounter at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic (which Gail oversaw for a time).

So she isn't, technically speaking, the best writer in the world, but she IS a fantastic storyteller, and that more than makes up for it in my opinion. Gail has a winning personality and it shines throughout her memoir. Yes, the listing offends the English major in me, but I can see that the reason she indulges in it is that she has such a genuine fondness for it all. Even after all these years working in the culinary industry she is still in awe of it all. Those ingredients and flavors at the F&W Classic make her feel positively giddy. This is a woman who LOVES her job and the industry she works in, and that love is so palpable that the reader can't help but fall under its spell.

I have a profound respect for anyone who pursues a career based on an all-consuming passion, and the story of how Gail found her way is fascinating. I also respect people who are willing to put in the work to make those dreams a reality, and Gail has done that. She wanted to write about food, so she knew she had to learn it inside and out. She went to culinary school and worked in some very prestigious kitchens (including Le Cirque). She worked with Jeffrey Steingarten (the venerable food writer for Vogue and author of the classic The Man Who Ate Everything) and Daniel Bouloud, eventually finding her way to Food & Wine and, in a nice twist of fate, Top Chef. Gail modestly attributes most of her success to luck--being in the right place at the right time--but the truth is that she let her passion lead her and she worked her butt off to get where she is.

Along the way we get enlightening glimpses into Gail's life, the inner workings of restaurants, and behind the scenes information about how Top Chef is made. We hear her first-hand experience of how hard it is to be a female chef in an industry that is overwhelmingly male.

For a grittier look at the inner workings of a restaurant you can look to Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.) (a fascinating read), but for a feel-good passion play about the funny things that can happen if you follow your heart (or stomach), Gail Simmons does not disappoint.

Grade: B+
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on November 21, 2012
Some parts of this book were interesting and enjoyable like the (very brief) inside look at Top Chef and the descriptions of the places she's been and some of the great meals she's had. Some of the food descriptions were a little forced though-we don't need to hear about every morsel you've eaten. But overall I found this book unsatifying and kind of dull. It seemed more like a piece of PR or marketing rather than a memoir. It was like a sales pitch for heself, her family and everyone she has ever worked with. In fact, everyone she has met and worked with has been wonderful and became her best friend and somehow helped her get a fabulous job. There seems to be a lack of insight, candor and depth. The only real emotion she displays in the book is when she goes to a diner and they overcook her omlette, whereupon she bursts into inconsolable tears. If you're a big fan of the show or love to read about food it might be worth a read but otherwise fairly skipable.
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on April 22, 2012
I like reading about the background of people, and while this book is enlightening, it is not a fabulous read. Gail Simmons definetly had a privileged background and her connections in the food world certainly helped launch her career. She is very qualified to judge entrees! Kindle edition is not the best way to read this book as the pictures are difficult to see and they would add to enjoyment.
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on April 13, 2012
It's a book about a sweet and beautiful woman who was well loved, highly educated, lucky in life, doing things she was born to do..

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VINE VOICEon April 29, 2012
I am sure most people that have an interest in Gail Simmons know her from the hit Bravo TV show Top Chef and that is probably why you want to read this book. If you are looking for gossipy tell all bits from the show you will only be slightly disappointed as she doesn't delve as deep into the inner workings that you may have expected. If you are looking for inspiration and an amazing story of a strong woman that followed her passion and was willing to work for it, you will be greatly rewarded.
For reasons I can't fully explain I have absolutely adored her ever since I saw her on the show. Her demeanor, input, and general being captured me quickly (as a gay man, I may have fallen in love with her for her wonderful wardrobe as well). When I found out she had written a memoir, to say I was excited is a gross understatement. To say that I enjoyed reading this book would also be a gross understatement. Not only does her writing capture every story and trial along the way it inspires you to choose the path that she herself followed. The path to follow a dream and be true to yourself.
The book is certainly about food, but it is also about a life. A life that was paved by will and sure, a little bit of luck. I encourage everyone to read this telling memoir and look further than the plate and look into the face of an inspirational woman that has done very well for herself.
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on March 6, 2012
I have been a fan of Gail since Top Chef started, I've always appreciated her views and critiques of food. I felt like she was kind hearted and genuine while being constructive in her criticism. Through this book I learned her story, her background,and her many food adventures. Though I must say, I was hungry and jealous throughout most of the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and came out with an even greater respect for who she is and what she does.
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on April 7, 2012
I would have given this book 5 stars, but it's a memoir, and not really a book that made a lasting impact on my life.

I bought this book in spite of a few negative reviews. I almost agree with some of them. She may be too young to have written her memoir, but in all honesty, she is smart to strike while the iron is hot. I disagree that the book was not about Top Chef. I think she started talking about Top Chef about mid way through the memoir. She gave a lot of behind the scenes info about how the show works, which I found fascinating. I wish my timing on reading this book was closer to the beginning of a new season. As a former restaurant manager, and someone obsessed with food, this book had me laughing, and my mouth watering. As a vegetarian and animal lover, there were a couple parts that made me squirm, but no more so than watching Top Chef and seeing animals butchered.

Definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves Top Chef and wants to know more about Gail Simmons or the show.
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on January 5, 2013
Ruth Reichl did this sort of subject SO much better! This book is ok...but the author seems too fascinated with her own learning process and with her discovery of the excitements and pressures of event planning, as though no one had ever done this before. She has benefited from having the right interests at the right time--the beginning of the wide interest in cooking--and she has done her work competently and with enthusiasm. She has succeeded as a major messenger of the "food revolution." But I didn't find this all so terribly fascinating. I managed to finish the book...just barely.
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on March 9, 2012
I purchased this book the first day it came out. I am a huge fan of Top Chef and especially Gail Simmons. I was interested in how such a young woman was able to move her career forward in such a short time to a stage that is enviable to any regular person. I found the stories in Gail's book very interesting. I felt like I was able to follow her on her journey. And I feel now like I understand her better and can relate to her more. I could not put this book down and I would highly recommend it to my friends and my family. It is a MUST READ!!!!
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on March 7, 2012
"Talking with My Mouth Full" is a treat from start to finish. Gail Simmons is an inspiration for anyone following a passion to turn into a career. Whether you are a foodie, a fan of excellent writing, or a loyal viewer of Top Chef, you will delight in this memoir from a woman who has accomplished such an impressive amount at a young age. She writes from the heart about her family, beloved husband, colleagues and friends who have supported her along the way and truly turned her culinary dreams into a reality. Simmons' voice makes her readers feel like she is having a conversation with them over an eclair and a cup of hot chocolate. It makes you want to cook, bake, eat and have new adventures and makes you feel like anything is possible if you follow your instincts.
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