Fresh off their Olympic gold medal doubles performance, Mike and Bob Bryan on Monday were named headliners of the 13th annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis event Aug. 23 in New York.
As a kickoff to the U.S. Open, the event benefits the New York Junior Tennis League, which is an education-themed organization serving 100,000 children. Victoria Azarenka, Janko Tipsarevi and Gilles Simon are among the other major tennis players attending.
Bryans, who are considered the best doubles players ever, will be paired at the charity event with celebrity chef Gail Simmons, who has been a judge and host on the "Top Chef" shows on Bravo.
Playbook couldn't reach the Bryans but did reach Simmons to talk about the event.
How big of a tennis fan are you?
"I have always loved tennis and watch the U.S. Open avidly every year. I attended tennis camp for many years as a child and my whole family plays. My older brother was on our high school team so I grew up with it."
Tennis and fine foods always seem to pair together. Why do you think that is?
"Tennis has always been a very social sport. Like great cooking, it requires a lot of skill, practice and strategy. It's competitive, but there is an element of camaraderie too, which of course lends itself to good food, coming together around the table and enjoying the best things in life."
You're a big-time runner. Have you ever done a major race like the New York City Marathon?
"I wouldn't say I'm a 'big-time' runner exactly. I'd say I'm a very consistent runner. I run several miles, bike or take spinning classes several times a week but I've never trained for or run a marathon. I'm in awe of marathon runners and pro-athletes of all kinds. I love being active, it's so important for both mind and body, and it's really part of the job with the amount of rich food I have to eat for work."
What is life like in New York compared to growing up in Toronto?
"I moved to New York almost 15 years ago to be at the center of the food and media industries and I love living here. I made my home here, met my husband and wouldn't change it for anything. I'm proud of all I have accomplished and I know so much of it has to do with the access that living in New York provides. But I definitely miss Toronto at times. The quality of life there is so high -- I grew up in the center of a dynamic city, went to an excellent public school and rode my bike there everyday. We lived in a single-dwelling home with a big backyard. You just can't get that in Manhattan."
Lastly, what kind of dishes do you expect to come out that night?
"The roster of chefs cooking at the Taste of Tennis is really outstanding! And I'm sure they want to impress all the players. So much talent in one room, cooking together for a great cause. I know the food will be delicious!"