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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She’s a supermodel, a philanthropist with her own nonprofit, a filmmaker, marathoner, student of Columbia’s Public Health masters program, one of TIME’s Most Influential People this year, wife of actor/director/hottie Ed Burns, and a mother of two, Grace (10) and Finn (8).

When we chatted with Christy Turlington Burns, we girded ourselves for a neurotic, Type-A go-getter. But she’s quite the opposite – an old soul with a gentle demeanor and fairly normal-sounding way of life (yes, truly). Totally inspiring and refreshing!


Christy opened up about her path to do-gooder-ness, which started with her own traumatic postpartum complications, and shared her insights on a balanced marriage and staying in shape – inside and out. This supermodel’s stories are straight ahead…

Pregnant Perfect

I had a picture-perfect pregnancy – I was healthy and felt great. I also had a beautiful delivery in a birthing center with a doula, midwife, and a supportive OB as backup. I was nursing Grace right after giving birth and suddenly saw the tone in the room shift. Most people go into the fourth stage of labor, delivering the placenta, at this point, but mine had grown attached to my uterine wall (something you can’t screen or test for) and needed to be extracted. The doctor had to intervene and literally tear it out of me. It was so unexpected and excruciatingly painful (like more so than giving birth without drugs). I was rocked to my core.


I had a postpartum doula (but no baby nurse) who is one of my favorite people on the planet. I lost a lot of blood, so she made sure I was given the right nutrition and got the proper bonding with my daughter – she totally took care of me, and I am eternally grateful to her.

Down The Rabbit Hole

Shortly thereafter, I jumped onto Google and discovered that 530,000 or so women were dying per year from delivery complications and postpartum hemorrhages.  I had no idea that women still died in pregnancy and childbirth in the 21st century. I thought that only happened in rare instances. I was determined to raise awareness for the many women who do not have basic care to save their lives if this happens to them.

On A Mission

A year and a half later, when I was 6 months pregnant with my son, I went on a humanitarian trip with CARE to El Salvador. CARE has been around for 50 years and does their work quietly, which intrigued me. I spent the last day with women who were also pregnant at a well. They were coming to retrieve water, and CARE had prenatal care set up onsite, so the women could receive it without missing work (a big reason many don’t get medical care). I saw this program in effect and working.

Aha Moment

When I got home, it really hit me then that if I didn’t have the fortune and resources I do – if I had been in a village like the one I visited – I could have died. Maternal health has to be a priority. I was so eager to do something.

On The Ground

I reached out to CARE to see how I could get more involved. Next I went to Peru and visited an area where they had successfully reduced high mortality rates. When I left, I wanted to share what I was seeing and learning, so I got inspired to make a film, and that’s where No Woman, No Cry came from.

Telling The Story

I wanted people to see the vast differences in maternity care around the world. We shot the film in Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh, and the U.S., and it really put a face behind all the statistics, which is so powerful.

Keep It Going

Now, my nonprofit Every Woman Counts (dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother) lets people actually get to work and directly affect change. By purchasing a product, donating an old cell phone, or even running a race, you provide tangible things – transportation vouchers in Uganda, training for birth attendants in Haiti, and solar-power to clinics in Malawi – that are desperately needed. On the site people can see the impact they’ve made via short films, photos, and blog posts, bringing it all full circle.

Marathon Woman

I’m training for my fourth marathon – I’ve gotten obsessed because it’s connected to the work I’m doing, so it’s become symbolic. I’m hooked! I run without music, it’s become my quiet time to clear my thoughts.

Christy’s Sister Married Eddie’s Brother

My sisters are my best friends, and Eddie’s brothers are his best friends. My sister Kelly is mutual friends with one of his friends, so she’s sorta how we met, and then she met his brother Brian through us, and they got married at our house 8 years ago! We have kids around the same age, making them double cousins! It’s so cool, they’re blood donors for each other – perfect matches on all these different levels, and they sense it themselves. I see my sister 3-4 times a week, and her kids are always at our apartment. It’s such a nice arrangement.


My daughter is starting middle school, and I’m excited but also like oh god! such a huge step. She’s such a strong, confident, independent child who was born ready for the world. I’m nervous about how fast it goes, and I know the jump from 10-20 goes in a nanosecond.

Boys vs. Girls

I’m one of 3 sisters, so I’m really glad I have a boy. He’s such a gentle, emotional guy. I love watching his interactions with his male friends – they’re so sweet and tender with each other. It’s changed my perception of boys and girls because my daughter is the tough one and my son is the emotional one. They balance each other out and can teach each other a lot.

Model Parents

Our goal as parents is to show the kids what a balanced relationship looks like. I want them to see us equally share the responsibilities of work and child rearing. That’s much easier when they are older.

3 Hours Alone, No Kids, No Work

You’d find me at a yoga workshop, where you can go deeper than a regular class – it would give me physical exercise, mental clarity, and the benefits of massage.

Date Night With Mr. Burns

My husband likes to go to the movies, but I prefer dinner and a walk on the beach because that’s what we did all the time when we first met.

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You’ve mastered the midnight blown-out diaper change and the nail trim (seriously: why is that so hard?), now on to the real work of raising a human. Not sure where to start? We understand. Shaping a kind, respectful person is serious business.

Which is why there’s a whole genre of publishing dedicated to this very art! We’ve broken down some of the most buzzed-about parenting approaches so you can pick your own – or better yet, pick & choose from each. There’s no one-size-fits-all method to the madness that is parenting – and really, we’re all a little bit crazy about something. So remember, no judgment.



Attachment Parenting

Who wrote the book:
The Baby Book, by William and Martha Sears
The theory:
Being emotionally and physically available creates secure bonds between parent and child. You learn to trust your instincts because you know your child so well. Your child feels capable and independent because he or she feels secure.
How it works:
Think babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping (or sleeping close by), and learning to respond to your child’s unique cries. In other words, get super in-tune with your kiddo.
Worst case scenario:
That breastfeeding tween from Game of Thrones.
Read on: and


French Parenting

Who wrote the book:
Pamela Druckerman with Bringing Up Bebe and the Cliff’s Notes version, Bebe Day By Day.
The theory:
French kids are better behaved (and better eaters) than American kids – and French parents don’t blow up their life for that kid.
How it works:
Establish firm boundaries. Say no with authority. Cut out snacking. Stop the negotiations (you’re the boss!). Wear stripes (just kidding). And your kids will patiently wait for their dinner (not nuggets and mac n’ cheese) without having a tantrum while you pour another glass of wine.
Read on: and French Kids Eat Everything by Karen LeBillion


Tiger Parenting

Who wrote the book:
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua
The theory:
Raise your child in a strict, traditional manner that values achievement over self-esteem and you’ll raise a successful child.
How it works:
Think the opposite of permissive parents with a focus on clear and high expectations. It’s one part tough love, one part (violin) practice makes perfect.
Read on:
It’s hard to find resources on strict parenting, go figure. But, for kicks, here’s what Chua’s Harvard-attending daughter penned in response. You can check out a short version of the book here.


Free Range Parenting

Who wrote the book:
Free Range Kids, by Lenore Skenazy
The theory:
Today’s kids are overscheduled and parents are helicoptering. Unclutter the calendar. Give your kids freedom. Release your worry.
How it works:
Plan fewer activities and play dates and let kids explore on their own. Prepare them for the freedom — being hands-off and free range are not the same thing — so that they learn the difference between a challenge and actual danger. P.S. We call this “raising kids in 1974”. It’s also sometimes associated with the Slow Parenting movement.
Read on: and Under Pressure, by Carl Honore


Mindful Parenting

Who wrote the book:
Everyday Blessings, by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
The theory:
Apply the practice of mindfulness to your child rearing and kids will grow to be adults who can easily handle all kinds of situations.
How it works:
Try seeing your kids for who they are and not who you want them to be. Be mindful in the moment instead of focusing on the outcome. Respond instead of react. Share empathy. Find your breath. (We’re calmer just writing this.)
Read on: and


Hand in Hand Parenting

Who wrote the book:
Parenting by Connection and Listening to Children by Patti Wipfler
The theory:
Children want to love and be loved. Listening and connecting with your child allows them to thrive.
How it works:
A series of booklets, videos, and classes help you learn to listen, respond to tears and meltdowns with compassion, and manage your own anxiety during stressful times — so you can be there for your kiddo.
Read on: and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham


RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) Parenting

Who wrote the book: The RIE Manual, by Magda Gerber
The theory: Treat babies with the respect they deserve in order to raise confident, self-starting, secure adults.
How it works: It starts with observation to better understand the needs of the baby. Cut the goo-goo, gah-gah. Talk/narrate in your normal voice about things as they happen (“Mom is changing your diaper.”) Allow for baby-directed free-play in a safe environment. Rattles, swaddles, bouncies, and flashing lights are a no-no. Don’t try to soothe your little, let your little learn to soothe herself.
Read on:; Baby Knows Best by Deborah Carlisle Solomon; and the Vanity Fair piece.

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Preschool Prep

The truth about preschool is that you don’t really need all the fun accessories that make the best Instagram, but that’s probably not going to stop you from picking out the cutest backpack and lunchbox for that ubiquitous first day photo. Herewith, our favorite preschool essentials.

And about that photo:

Share yours with us. Use hashtag #cricketsfirstday on Facebook and Instagram, and look for our round-up of the cutest preschoolers.





The Extras

Onyx Ice Pack: a stainless steel ice pack is the only (and safest!) way to go.
Sharpie Fabric Markers: Label every piece of clothing if you want to see it again.


Brown Bag Inspiration

Goop – it’s GP-approved and simple, need we say more?
Food52 – last night’s leftovers, glorified
Weelicious – kitchen-averse need apply
Bon Appetit – if you’re a gourmand


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