A famed celebrity chef with two prestigious restaurants and a customer-favourite line of kitchen essentials, Curtis Stone is a force to be reckoned with. We caught up with our favourite Aussie chef to learn more about his culinary journey. From his affinity for truffles to his origins in the culinary world, we get to know the man behind the brand through 16 questions.
1. When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
I’ve always loved food and was a voracious eater as a kid. I was working towards a business degree and started an apprenticeship in the kitchen at The Savoy in Melbourne. I stopped my studies, ended up traveling through Europe and then getting a job with Marco Pierre White in London. That pretty much sealed the deal.
2. What was your biggest screw-up in the kitchen?
I was the executive chef at Bluebird in the Chelsea neighborhood in London. There was an old brick oven that hadn’t been used for a while and I wanted to put it back into action. One night, it was getting really smoky—like supersmoky. I panicked and busted out the fire extinguisher and then pulled the fire alarm myself. But it was an open kitchen and the guests were having such a good time, nobody noticed! I had to run out to the dining room and yell, “Get out, can’t you see there’s a fire?!” The fire department got there and busted up my beautiful old oven. Turns out the proper ventilation wasn’t installed. Talk about a screw-up!
3. What do you love most about your job?
The discovery: finding new uses for ingredients, or finding new ingredients themselves and experimenting with techniques on how best to use them. Taking that and getting to express yourself and wow guests on a plate. It doesn’t get much more rewarding!
4. When you were a kid, did you eat your vegetables?
I ate everything. And still do.
5. Favourite kitchen gadget or piece of equipment?
I get asked this a lot, and honestly, it’s a Bialetti—the little Italian espresso maker. As a chef, I work long hours and am on my feet most of the time. I drink about seven to eight cups a day.
6. What are your best cooking tips for someone at home?
Keep it simple, do as much prep in advance as you can, get the whole family involved, and enjoy yourselves!
7. What’s your favourite food memory?
Cooking fudge with my gran, Maude. She was my earliest inspiration and why I named my first restaurant after her.
8. What are your favourite foods to cook with?
I love using anything seasonal, but truffles are, hands down, my favourite ingredient.
9. What do you like to cook at home?
I’m lucky that my kids will try almost anything. We cook a lot of pasta, grill during the summer, and make tons of salads using the veg from the garden. My favourite meals might be leisurely weekend breakfasts with pancakes and fresh juice. I love cooking for my wife, Lindsay, too—her favourite is lobster and champagne.
10. What is the biggest challenge you face in the kitchen?
What’s most challenging for me is being restricted or limited in the use of ingredients. Sometimes dietary restrictions are necessary to accommodate a guest—and I get that—but food is so much better with butter, salt and everything in between.
11. Are there any foods you don’t like?
12. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
Still at my restaurants, still engaged with my business. The truth is, I’m not good at being idle. I’m always looking for new opportunities to get involved in.
13. What do you do for fun?
Would you believe me if I said, “cook”? I do love entertaining and that requires cooking, but I like to get everyone involved. All my parties begin and end in the kitchen. That said, I also like the outdoors. We ski in the winter, and surf and swim during the summer.
14. What would you have as your last meal?
Anything and everything with truffles.
Making restaurant-quality dishes doesn’t have to be hard—take your dinner party to the next level with Curtis Stone’s collection of kitchen must-haves, available here at TSC!