“Top Chef” judge and Food & Wine personality Gail Simmons was at the Mandarin Oriental on Tuesday for the Shades of Hope Gala, which benefits the Melanoma Foundation of New England. Simmons told us that she’s lending her celebrity to the cause because she’s known people who have died from melanoma and because she believes that it’s a “very real thing that’s largely misunderstood.” She said she wants to help educate the masses about how we can protect ourselves from skin cancer. Simmons — who called us from a friend’s house in Boston on Tuesday afternoon — said she got the chance to try some local restaurants during her short trip. She dined at Island Creek Oyster Bar on Monday night and at Joanne Chang’s Myers + Chang on Tuesday. “I have a list of about 40 places where I’d like to eat, but I’m only here for 24 hours,” she said. Simmons will stay in the area through Wednesday so that she can appear at a Babson College event with her pal Andrew Zimmern.