Gail Simmons knows all about Mommy Happy Hour. The Top Chef judge had her first child, daughter Dahlia, late last year with husband, music exec Jeremy Abrams. When life, which includes a job as special-projects manager for Food and Wine magazine, gets a bit overloaded, she has no issue with yanking out a bottle. It’s all part of another side gig, as national ambassador for Estancia Wines. We spoke to the culinary expert, who will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day:
Do you have advice for any of us trying to juggle it all?
It’s always difficult to balance time for family, exercise and healthy eating on the go, so I plan ways to incorporate them all together. I try to make time for outdoor fun at least once a week: a hike, a family baseball game or a walk in the park after dinner. Then we reward ourselves with a healthy treat. My favorite way to unwind at the end of a busy day is to prepare dinner. I love to turn on music, pour myself a glass of pinot noir and get cooking.
Can you give some entertaining tips for the time-pressed?
Don’t stress! I like to prepare easy meals, like fresh tacos with chardonnay, so my guests can join in on the fun and creativity of cooking. I lay out an abundant display of toppings allowing guests to assemble their own.
What is your favorite wine?
I love the Estancia Monterey Country Pinot Noir, it is so versatile and pairs with many of my favorite dishes. With aromas of raspberry, cherry and warm spices, it has a great balance and a silky finish.
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
I’m not a morning person, but waking up to her makes me one. She’s so silly and happy, and she is at that stage where she’s starting to laugh and giggle and really play. She’s changing so quickly. It is amazing to watch. Every day is sort of a new adventure.
What other projects do you have going on?
I have so many things going on! I am the Estancia winery ambassador, which is really exciting because I get to create delicious recipes and pair them with their fabulous wines. It’s a fun job, to say the least! I’m also back at work, shooting two new shows, which are both premiering this summer. I just finished shooting with Curtis Stone for Top Chef Duels, which is Bravo’s newest member of the Top Chef family, and it is really exciting. It’s a totally new format where some of our favorite past contestants go head to head in amazing, epic culinary battles. I’m also shooting The Feed for a new network from A&E launching in July called FYI. It’s unlike any show I’ve ever done before. It’s silly and fun, and all about food and current trends, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s part culinary adventure and part talk show. I do it with Chef Marcus Samuelsson and an amazing young comedian named Max Silvestri, and the three of us have so much fun together. It’s a complete departure from anything I have ever done, and I can’t wait for people to see it.