My LA to Z: Gail Simmons

The seasoned judge on <i>Top Chef</i> season 13, which premieres December 2 on Bravo, talks midnight martinis, hidden playgrounds, and where she burns those Quickfire calories

Jon & Vinny’s

jonvinnyI go for breakfast or lunch, with kids, or for work meetings. It’s the perfect spot for awesome food at any time of day for any reason. And I love Helen’s wine shop in the back!

Soul Cycle

soulcycleI used to take Roarke in New York when SoulCycle first opened and missed his classes so much when he left. Now he’s here, and I get to take his classes whenever I visit.

Hiko Sushi

hikoOff the beaten path in Culver City, this is one of L.A.’s many extraordinary but lesser known sushi hot spots. It’s super serious about fish with no frills and never disappoints.



This is my favorite place for breakfast when I have a little extra time. There is something really special and uniquely L.A. about Jessica Koslow’s menu—it’s savory, it’s sweet, and it’s so, so satisfying. I hear she may be expanding to New York, which makes me infinitely happy.

Croft Alley

faison5I discovered this tiny spot of healthful food and drink on my last work trip and I wish I had known about it sooner. When I am working in L.A., I usually have to stay in the West Hollywood or Hollywood area, as our studio is in Burbank. It’s great to know about honest, tasty, independent places like this that are walking distance from my hotel.

Annenberg Community Beach House

faison7My executive producer at Bravo has a son close to my daughter’s age and took us all here on my last trip. For my daughter and me, who rarely gets to play on the beach, it was amazing! We ate lunch with our feet in the sand, made sand castles, went swimming and loved the community vibe!


faison7I moved to Brooklyn about two years ago and did a pretty extensive renovation. We bought a number of pieces of furniture here and love every one. They are the perfect balance of useable and stylish, modern and comfortable, and their new store has a local “Made in LA” designer section which is so beautifully curated.

So Hot Right Nail

faison7Bel is a totally incredible nail artist who I was introduced to by my business partner Sam, who is L.A.-based. She is my new splurge whenever I am there. She even makes house calls for any nail emergency!

Valerie Confections

faison7Valerie is one of the most talented chocolatiers I know, but her chocolate is just the tip of the iceberg. I love her stall at Grand Central Market and often buy her caramels and treats as gifts for friends. Her custom  cakes are my L.A. go-to for special occasions, and her “good mix” (a play on chocolate granola) is awesome at any time at all—it’s just so addictive….

Kimberly McDonald Jewelry Flagship Boutique

faison7Kimberley is one of my favorite designers and I have never received more compliments than when I wear her rings and earrings, necklaces or bracelets on TV and for events. She just opened a flagship store in L.A.! Now if I can’t afford to buy her stuff, I can at least ogle it more easily.

Pacific Dining Car

faison7We often shoot late on Top Chef and even though we eat a lot of food during challenges, by the time we finish Judges Table, we are hungry again and need dinner! I love this super old-school spot for 24 hour food and drinks….it’s so classic and fun, hasn’t changed in decades and makes a mean martini.

King’s Road Park

faison7I discovered this tiny secret park when my daughter was 4 months old and I spent hours wandering the neighborhood with her in a stroller while she slept. It’s quiet and shaded with a little playground and green space, waterfall and plenty of seating. Now that she’s a little older we still go back when we are in the area. It’s also a great spot to sit and read, away from the crowds.

Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) yelp/Thomas O.; (2) twitter/roarkewalker; (3) yelp/Joan S.; (4) yelp/Jam Y.; (5) yelp/Madz B.; (6) yelp/Jennifer L.; (7) instagram/animal; (12) yelp/Karen C. All other photographs courtesy