Gail Simmons, Top Chef Just Desserts

Scott Schafer/Bravo

Top Chef's pastry-centric spinoff Just Desserts premieres tonight at 11 p.m. after the Top Chef finale, and chef judge Gail Simmons leads the new series in the Padma role of hostess and designated hottie.

So let's address the question we're all secretly asking ourselves about Just Desserts: How does Gail stay healthy and lean while eating 17 ice-cream sundaes in one sitting? Here's what she told us about her diet and exercise plan, plus why we think you should watch this decadent new series:

Gail reveals that the problem of consuming too much rich food is something she faces more frequently than not: "I've been eating professionally for over a's an occupational hazard all year round for me."

She tells us, "The calories I was ingesting in large quantities [on the shows] were empty for the most part. I wasn't eating proteins and greens—I was eating butter and sugar. In terms of the quantity, I don't really ever count calories—that's a fruitless endeavor, pun intended, and I don't really care or want to know the number. It's certainly something I thought a lot about affecting my health, and I do believe in balance and moderation most times of the year."

So how did she combat all that yummy, but fattening, butter and sugar? Gail says,
"I certainly exercised more—I bumped up my exercise routine before I started the show and really made sure I worked out as hard and as much as I could, just to keep my body as healthy as possible. Then during the shooting I tried to get out and exercise...Luckily, we shot in L.A. so the weather was always beautiful. Any free moments, I went for a run or I jumped on the treadmill. And then it's just about keeping track of what you eat the rest of the time, when you're not on camera." Regular exercise helps keep bodies healthy. Check. (Go Gail!)

Now, if you're a fan of the original, but if you haven't decided whether or not to watch the new series, we suggest you give it a taste. It's structured and scripted exactly like the critically acclaimed and Emmy-winning original series, except on this program the losers have to pack up their tools (not knives) and go.

Oh, well, there's one other difference: This show is lovingly crafted from, as Gail puts it, "sugar and butter and doughs and jams and jellies and fruits and chocolate and caramel and butterscotch and height and sculpture and artistry." Delicious!

As for that other key ingredient in any successful delectable TV treat—the characters—Gail says, "This was the most fascinating cast to watch in five years of doing Top Chef, in 10 seasons of shows that I have done in the Top Chef family. This cast blows them all away. [Pastry chefs] are a totally different brain—a totally different species, almost. And there's so much tension and so much pressure."

Will you treat yourself to Just Desserts tonight? Do you love Gail as much as we do? Hit the comments!


Don't miss Marc Malkin's coverage of the Top Chef finale!

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