As a trained chef, Special Projects Director of Food & Wine Magazine, a judge on Top Chef (and Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels), host of the new show The Feed, overseer of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, board member of City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen, published author (if you haven’t read Talking With My Mouth Full you should) – Gail Simmons has a lot on her plate.

Add to the roster: mom to five month-old Dahlia Rae. But don’t tell her that “it’s going to get better” because she already loves every minute of it: “It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.”

The new mom leaves her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, neighborhood – where they moved a week before she gave birth – for Boston soon to shoot season 12 of Top Chef with Dahlia Rae in tow.

We caught up with her (in between pumping and meetings) about the challenges of nursing and one of her most embarrassing moments (yes, it involves breastmilk).

What’s In A Name?

Dahlia is my favorite flower – it symbolizes sunshine and comes in so many amazing colors. It was our wedding flower and it was on our invitation. Rae is to honor my husband’s Aunt Rena, who passed away two years ago. She was so encouraging and supportive in our lives, and we love and miss her so much.

 Lifesaving Products

We opened the Fisher-Price bouncy chair when she was a month old, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t opened it sooner. It allowed us to eat dinner, for me to pump and go to the bathroom when I was home alone with her. Once she hit three months, she graduated to the Mamaroo, which we call the hovercraft. She’s really into it now.

 Part Of The Club

On Top Chef, I was the only one who didn’t have kids, so they’ve been a wealth of knowledge and help. Michelle Bernstein made me realize it’s okay to be back at work and to lose the guilt associated with it because it’s the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity.

 Deep Thoughts From Gail

How will she sleep comfortably unswaddled? How can I leave the house without 14 bags? How do I pump when I’m running around all day? These are questions I don’t know the answers to.


I was taping in front of a live studio audience and forgot to put nipple pads in my bra. They leaked right there. It was horrifying. You think you’re at least keeping it together on the outside. Of course I was wearing a beautiful silk dress. And in case you didn’t know, yes, milk stains. It was a low point.

Get In My Belly

After giving birth, you feel like you don’t know anything, including how to keep yourself fed. I have mastered the efficient grocery shop. Fresh Direct is tough for me because I like to physically walk the aisles and see my options. I went to Union Market and created a basic order with them. Sometimes I go and pick everything out and have them deliver it, others I just call and ask for my basics. I embrace anyone who delivers these days.

Flower Child

I love Honest diapers. Dahlia wears dahlias on her bottom – how cute is that?! Angela and Ethan Stowell [chef] gave me this amazing RoSK blanket that’s waterproof on one side, soft and fluffy on the other and it ties onto the stroller. It’s great for the park because you can put the waterproof side on the ground.

Neighborhood Nosh

We moved to Cobble Hill a week before I gave birth, so we’ve been getting to know the restaurants with baby in tow. We love Buttermilk Channel, Court Street Grocers, Nightingale 9, Red Gravy, Iris Cafe – they’re all so accommodating and kid-friendly. I spent a month in LA shooting and we frequented Cafe Gratitude, Alfred Coffee & Kitchen and lunch at Fred Segal.

Just Stop, Already

Everyone keeps saying, oh it’s going to get better, but we are actually loving the early days. She’s only four and a half months, and we are already reminiscing about things she “used to do”. It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.

Give Yourself A Break

I think new moms feel out of control so they obsess about routine and schedules, but the truth is they are babies, and you have to give yourself a break. They are going to be fine if you can’t feed them every three hours to the minute. Babies are adaptable and every child is different – you can’t prescribe one schedule for all. It’s all going to be okay as long as they are fed, dry and loved.

First Foods

I hope to make Dahlia Rae’s food myself in the beginning. I can’t wait for her to try avocado, banana, mango, sweet potato, peaches, corn. There would be great irony if I spawned a very picky eater.

Three Hours Alone On A Saturday

Will that ever happen again? I’m getting a mani, pedi and a massage anywhere that will take me at a moment’s notice.

Mom Brain

Now I know why my mom sometimes can’t remember my name. Because she had three children. I barely know my own name some days, and I only have one. Sleep deprivation is rough.


Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea

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Saturdays With Dannielle Kyrillos

saturdays Dannielle Kyrillos
Lives: The West Village in NYC
Husband, JP Kyrillos, President of The Daily Meal; son Caspian (Cappy), 2.5
You might know: A little reality show called Top Chef: Just Desserts where Dannielle was a judge. Or her latest project, What’s New With You?
Secret obsession: I have to tell the truth: I adore the Athens, GA-based groovy band Widespread Panic. I’ve seen them play around the world and will do anything to get to a show. Southern fried rock that makes you dance your face off!



Is anything better than waking up to someone’s tiny, scraggly toes tickling your ear while the owner of the toes cackles to himself? Caspian seems to mysteriously end up in our bed at some point in the middle of almost every Friday night, and then we all wake up together, relieved it’s the weekend!


Ok, when I said “all wake up together,” that was technically true, but my saint of a husband always, always gets up with the boy and lets me snooze a little longer. But then I hear how much fun they’re having downstairs, so I get up and we have coffee and a little snack (“Breakfast #1″). Cappy builds something with his Magna-Tiles (best, best, most creativity-inducing invention ever), usually a parking garage.



We love to go on a “breakfast date” at an easy little diner-y spot down the street called the PATH cafe (quaintly located right next to the entrance to the PATH train). We sit at the counter and visit with Bruce, the straight-out-of-central-casting, wonderful curmudgeon with a heart of gold who works there. We have smoothies and egg wraps and Caspian flirts with fellow diners.


If there is a farmers’ market within a thousand miles, my husband will sniff it out and take us there, so every Saturday we visit the awesome one at Abingdon Square. We buy eggs from Farmer Ben (his wife just had their 13th baby!), veggies from these nice New Jersey farmers, and fish from the fishermen. Caspian holds up the line asking them about their boat, and is recently obsessed with crabs (“Those crabs have a car they drive to the beach. They love that car. It is pink.”)


The market is right next to Bleecker Street Playground, one of Caspian’s most favorite places in the world, so we always stop and play for awhile. It’s really crowded on the weekends so we try to go early before the chaos. It’s impossible not to run into someone, so it’s nice to have more coffee (usually from Upright Brewhouse or The Elk) with the grown-ups while the smaller people play in the sand.


Naps on weekends are so hard these days. This is when we try to wind down the boy and walk him in his stroller (we live on a cobblestone alley so for me the only way to go is the Bob Revolution! What a treat to be able to steer carefully with one hand and enjoy a coffee with the other) until he falls asleep so we don’t have a crazy person on our hands later. I’d say we’re successful 70% of the time. Luckily we live right across the street from the Hudson River so the walking is really scenic.


Caspian usually wakes up around this time and we make a little lunch with the farmers’ market goods at home. Grilled vegetables, yummy fish, very easy.


Sometimes, especially if Cappy wouldn’t go down for a nap because he was too busy acting as one of his alter-egos, Jerry the Kittycat or Blueberry the Dog (“Blueberry” has been known to poop outside on the patio “because dogs poop outside and then their owners pick up the poop”), I beg Saint JP to let me sneak in a nap or a SoulCycle class while they do fun father-son stuff.


On nice Saturdays we like to take advantage of every minute, so it’s off on “an adventure.” We’ll meet up with friends at a park or someone’s house, we’ll rent bikes and ride along the river, we’ll take our soccer ball and orange plastic cone collection (if your little person likes soccer and has seen them, they are the best, weirdest thing $10 can buy–also good for construction sites), and just run around enjoying the city. Oh, often this involves reviewing real construction sites because Caspian is obsessed and visits “the builders” throughout the week.


Around this time we get really excited if Caspian says, “How about dinner at Barbuto?” because it’s the greatest luxury in the world after a long day to show up right when it opens for dinner. They are so utterly accommodating to families, and we can all feel like civilized people again. Caspian asks for olives and breadsticks to start, and loves their kale salad because it’s really just a vessel for cheese. The grown-ups drink Pio Cesare barbera, Cappy watches the world go by through the garage doors, and we all feel lucky to live in New York City.


Bedtime, and not always just for Caspian. We all unwind with books (“Little Blue Truck” and “The Bear’s Sea Escape” are current favorites) and then it’s zzzzzzzzz.

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On Our Radar: October 16, 2014


WHO: Little ones who get more food on themself than in their mouth.
WHAT: New Silispoons are crafted out of silicone, have textured handles, and shovel-shaped heads for easy scooping and eating.
WHEN: Order now for November delivery.


WHO: Product-obsessed parents who are suckers for cute packaging.
WHAT: New kids bath line, Tubby Todd, is strong enough for BIG messes yet safe and gentle enough for newborns. And of course all-natural, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic.
WHEN: You have a penchant for good, clean fun.

WHO: Adventurous parents and caregivers who want a stroller that can manage snow and hikes.
WHAT: The new all-terrain Bumbleride Indie 4 fits newborns to 5-year-olds, comes with a bassinet, and collapses easily, and also manages to be lightweight.
WHEN: Before the polar vortex is upon us.

WHO: Parents plagued by the nightlight conundrum.
WHAT: Snap Ray Guidelights are brilliant plug-and-play outlet covers with built-in nightlights that work via sensor. They’re safe, free up outlets, and install in minutes. WHEN: Before dark!

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If you’ve ever caught an episode of The Rachel Zoe Project (and you must), you know Rachel Zoe has earned every bit of her fame. That girl works! (And her ubiquitous venti Starbucks must help.) The most famous stylist in Hollywood – Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson, and Eva Mendes are clients – Zoe brought the notion of outfitting celebrities into the mainstream. Even your uncle knows what a stylist is now.

With the help of her financier husband Rodger Berman (“babe” to Rachel), the power duo have built an empire out of her 70s glam, boho-chic signature style that includes books (Style A To Zoe and Living In Style), contemporary clothing (Rachel Zoe Collection), a media channel (The Zoe Report), the reality show, and collaborations with QVC among others.

Add to the list totally devoted, hands-on mom to Skyler (Sky-Sky, 3) and Kai (10 months), her two gorgeous blue-eyed sons, who she calls “the loves of my life.”

We caught up with the funny, cheerful uber-stylist about “shutting it down” while pregnant, the best baby gift she received (we die!), having kids later in life, a hilarious moment when her styling chops overtook her parenting skills (bananas!), and much more.

The one and only Rachel Zoe…


That’s A Wrap

The Rachel Zoe Project is officially over after 5 years. It was a good run! I just don’t want cameras inside my personal life with children around – they are sacred.

So Much Love

You can’t overlove, overkiss, or overhug your children. I call the boys muffintop, lovebug, angelface, love of my life, my prince – I have a different name for them every day!

Best Baby Gift

A Louis Vuitton Speedy duffel with monogrammed initials. They’ll have it forever.

Pregnancy Style Advice

Black, black, and more black. And denim. Lots of ponchos, capes, maxi dresses, especially Rick Owens cotton jersey pieces – stick to fabrics that move with your body.

Advice for New Moms

Try to be there for the big moments because you can’t get them back. Once your baby takes the first step, you don’t see that again. I used to bring Skyler to work with me almost every day before he started school, but I think it’s easier and more efficient if you separate (mentally and physically) and give each thing your full attention at different times. I do dinner, bath, and bedtime with my kids 90% of the time.

Change To Her Routine

I rearrange everything around my children and either go out after they’re in bed or don’t go at all. Skyler is an age where I can explain to him when Mommy has to go to an event and won’t be there tonight, and he gets it.

Something In The Water

I’m very supportive of motherhood and babies at Rachel Zoe – we’ve had 8 babies this year, so I think we will implement a daycare in 2015.

Hardest Part of Being a Parent

You lose the impulsiveness in your life. Pre-children, I would grab my stuff and hop on a plane to Paris with basically no notice. This is why I decided to have kids later in life. It totally changes the way you approach your life and travel. Now I either do short trips without them or longer trips where I bring them.

Must-Haves When Traveling with Kids

A soft pillow and blanket, the iPad, lots of coloring books, arts and crafts, and always pack your own food. Skyler’s favorite thing to eat is an avocado and cheese sandwich, so that’s a must.

The Early Days Essentials

I’m an eco-mommy across the board, so we live for The Honest Company products (diapers, diaper spray, healing balm, body oil – I lather them in it), The Little Seed onesies (my kids lived in them), Aden + Anais organic bamboo blankets, which are crazy soft, Melissa & Doug and Hape wooden toys, the Bugaboo Chameleon stroller for one, and the Stokke double for two.

Earth Angels

Skyler’s name came to me right when I found out I was pregnant, but I never told Roger because I thought he would hate it. A few days before he was born, I finally told him I loved this name and couldn’t get it out of my mind, and he loved it too! He happened to come out with these big blue eyes which made it so perfect. I wanted another earth element with Kaius since we call Skyler “Sky”, and I always loved the name Kai, which means “big body of water.” I knew a few Kai’s, so I looked up the origin and thought Kaius was so beautiful. I got lucky that his eyes are the color of the ocean!

Perfect Moment

We are all four in our bed in matching Barefoot Dreams bathrobes (which we literally stay in the whole day) – that’s it, pure joy. Or sitting on the beach doing the exact same thing, just not wearing bath robes.


I put Skyler in a 3-piece Gucci suit for his first class picture at 2.5 when it was 90 degrees outside. He was dripping sweat. I got so lost in the moment and he should have been in shorts and a T-shirt like the rest of the kids. I had to take it off immediately after the picture. That was a fail. Definitely a fail! But the picture was adorable!

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