Information Diet: Gail Simmons

Ranking highbrow/brilliant is 'New York's iconic Approval Matrix, 'Friday Night Lights,' Google Earth


Who Gail Simmons

Age 35

Accomplishment Judge on Bravo's Top Chef; host and judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts; head of special projects for Food & Wine magazine; author of Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater

Base New York

What’s the first information you consume in the morning?

It’s my BlackBerry, emails and a quick glance at Twitter, usually right after I get out of the shower.

What do you read or watch or listen to at the breakfast table?

Generally, I just need to get out of my house. I don’t linger over breakfast. When I’m traveling, which I do for about five months a year, or when I do have time in the morning, it’s probably TV—The Weather Channel or The Today Show.

What occupies your mind in the car, on the subway, train or bus?

I take the subway to work every morning in New York, and my office is exactly three blocks away. It’s a seven-minute commute. If I do get a longer commute, I read New York magazine. I feel like it’s the old-school way to get in touch with my city. I’m sort of obsessed with the Approval Matrix.

Are you a TV junkie or on an airtime-restricted diet?

I’m on an airtime-restricted diet. I’ve never been the kind of person who sits in front of the TV aimlessly for hours.

If you’re a couch potato, what do you watch, and how: TV, laptop or tablet?

I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones, and I’m deep into Friday Night Lights. which I stream on Netflix. Last weekend, I was watching an episode of Friday Night Lights’ third season, and I noticed that in one scene, in the background, Top Chef is on the television. I paused the TV and screamed my head off.

Before bed, do you bite into a novel, graze on Twitter or fast until morning?

I’ll tune into The Late Show With Jimmy Fallon if I’m up late enough to catch it.

Which is more nutritious: print or Web?

Print, for me, is my meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner. But the Web is my snack time, which is equally as important. You need snacks during the day to keep your energy up.

Give us the skinny on your favorite app.

I’m sort of a map freak, so I spend a lot of time on Google Earth and everything from Around Me to the New York subway map and HopStop. I use the Food & Wine Best New Chefs app all the time, especially when I travel. No matter what city I’m in, I know I’ll have good restaurants to go to.

What’s your biggest digital indulgence?

I would say shopping online. I spent a lot of time on Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, Zappos and Amazon. Other than shopping, I would say design sites—I love Design*Sponge and Lonny—and Serious Eats and Grub Street.

With such a bloated media universe, how do you cut out the fat?

As someone who comes from a magazine background, I feel like it’s all about curation and editing. It’s about finding really reliable sources that give you the information you want to hear.