"Top Chef" judge Gail Simmons reveals biggest cooking mistakes

Gail Simmons On "Top Chef"
Gail Simmons On "Top Chef"

This article is a part of #KanvasLive, an interactive, cross-platform content series brought to life on the Kanvas app and AOL.com. See more coverage here.​

Celebrity culinary expert Gail Simmons knows her way around the kitchen. As one of the permanent judges of "Top Chef," Simmons has honed her food palate by eating some of the best cuisines by some of the best chefs in the world.

Although most know about her history with "Top Chef," many would be surprised to know that Simmons is also one of the masterminds behind the famous Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and was in charge of running the event for 5 years.

AOL.com had a chance to catch up with the culinary queen in Aspen and ask her some delicious questions about the festival, her favorite things about "Top Chef" and the biggest mistake a chef can make in the kitchen...and not even the biggest cooking pro is safe from this faux pas.

You have a long history with the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. What is your favorite thing about it?
Can I say everything? This is my 12th year at the Classic in Aspen and everything about it is incredible. Landing in the mountains, the big blue sky, all the friends I get to see every year. This is one place I know that if all else fails, we get to meet in the mountains and drink, be together and celebrate this incredible, lucky world we live in. Aspen is like a magical mythical fairy land.

Check out the beautiful view in Aspen:


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What's the best cooking-related advice you've ever received?
I guess this is an over-arching rule and it relates to life too, but how patience is your best tool in the kitchen and how patience makes a difference in cooking. That doesn't mean that cooking has to take a long time. But in allowing the food to do what it needs to do and taking your time, to carefully think about it, carefully cut it and carefully plate it and that is when food is at its best. I remind myself about that every day when I'm in the kitchen.

What do you think is the biggest mistake people make in the kitchen?​
This is actually fashion and food advice, but I think people want to put too much on. It's important to realize that simplifying is always the way to go. It is also very helpful to clean as you go, especially for home cooks. I think that's the key in the kitchen -- being organized. That way you're not grasping at the last minute or burning yourself. When you rush, that's when you hurt yourself and when things don't work out because you weren't paying attention.

"Top Chef" is obviously a big part of your life. What is your most memorable moment you have about the show?
I've been making this show now for 11 years so I have a thousand memorable moments. One of my favorite things about "Top Chef" is that we go to a different city for every single season and an additional place for the season finale. So over 11 seasons, plus spinoffs, we've gone to something like, 25 locations around the world.

And being from Canada, I wouldn't have been able to go to all these lovely places across the U.S. without this show. And when we go to these places, we don't just go for a day and shoot and then leave. We go and stay for a month or six weeks and get to know these cities, their foods, the chefs. That, to me, has been the biggest education of my life and it has been such a privilege to travel with this band of gypsies.

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What would be your five desert island foods?
Champagne, dark chocolate, spaghetti alla carbonara, mangoes and beef jerky -- but not all eaten simultaneously, obviously.

Your event here is 'Dim Sum After Dark.' How did this event come about? Is this something you've done in the past?
Not really. About five years ago, I was shooting "Top Chef: Just Desserts" with Johnny Iuzzini, who is my cohost on the show, and we were coming to Aspen and decided to throw a late-night dessert party and we got a lot of local bakers from Aspen involved. We threw this crazy late-night party and it was the sleeper hit of the weekend. We were all dancing like maniacs until 3 in the morning. It was amazing so we just repeated it for two or three years in a row. It was so fun. But once the show was over, we wanted to do something different. So we retired the dessert idea and last year threw a breakfast-for-dinner party with a Bloody Mary bar and it was great.

This year, "Food & Wine" was deciding what to do and the idea of dim-sum came up because it's bite-sized and perfect for a party. They asked chef Andrew Zimmern to do it because he is the guy who has traveled to that part of the world more than any of us combined. He came up with this amazing menu and they asked me to do dessert for the party. Andrew and I have worked together a lot and we play off each other. My desserts are all Asian-influenced, which I think will really compliment his food.

See more photos from the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in the gallery below:​

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