Food News

My Ten Minutes in Heaven with Australian Heartthrob Chef Curtis Stone

Honestly, my goal last week was to get my bitchy ass into Market, the huge tradeshow and gift market at Dallas Market Center. Yadda, yadda, yadda, I'm suddenly scheduled to interview someone named chef Curtis Stone on Friday afternoon. Cool, except I have no idea who he is. So I Google him and find out that he's a pretty, pretty big deal. Did I mention pretty? I brought along a tape recorder, because A) I'm obviously super professional, and B) there was no way I was going to be able to concentrate. Here's what Cutie Stone Cold Fox Curtis Stone had to say.

What brings you to Dallas Market Center? Come here often? In a nutshell, I'm here because we're launching this incredible line of cookware, which I've designed, and we're here showing it to the world!

And judging by the parking situation, the entire world is indeed here at Market. What have you eaten/are you planning on eating while in town? We only got here yesterday, and we went to Javier's, which was good. I'm kind of a dirty Mexican guy and that was a little up-market, which was cool. What's the butter for though? What are you supposed to do with the butter?

Duh! You dip your chip in it before the salsa. We're fat like that. I also want to go to BBQ. Is it Sonny Bryan's ... that's what's been recommended?

Yeah...I'll leave you with some better recommendations after we're finished here. You seem to be on board with this whole local, seasonal, organic food movement. Do you think it's catching on? I think it's caught on in a huge way. I can remember sitting down with people five, six years ago and saying "I believe in growing things, and sourcing high quality seasonal ingredients," and they were like "oh that's interesting," and now it's like "oh yeah, yeah, yeah." I've been doing it for as long as I've been cooking. Now everybody's doing it.

Tell me about your show Around the World in 80 Plates. Is it tough since you and Cat Cora are so neck-and-neck on the Chef Attractiveness scale? Cat's unreal. She's so much fun. Whenever you work with someone you wonder what it's going to be like, but she was an absolute sweetheart from the word go. We traveled the world together ... sharing cabs and hotels. We ate out all the time we'd stay up and go out dancing and partying...

And Around the World in 80 Plates? We get 12 chefs and it's a bit like Amazing Race meets Top Chef. The first part of the show is called The Course. The chefs have to do a culinary race across town. They have to use their street smarts, their linguistic skills, their culinary skills. At the end of the course they take over a local restaurant and they have to cook for the locals.

What's the best thing about working with Williams-Sonoma? It's the marshmallows, right? They're a cool store with beautiful stuff. Williams was one of those very first pioneering guys who came back from France with soufflé molds. There's really still that passion for the business. It's been a real pleasure. I was the first celebrity chef they ever had in their stores, which is a really good accomplishment, and I'm very proud of what we make.

Be honest: do you sometimes get confused with Jaime Oliver ... because of your hair? Occasionally. I actually get confused with Gordon Ramsey believe it or not. I kind of like being confused with Gordon, because then when I'm polite they're so surprised. They're like, "but he's such an asshole on television!"

Name three items you can't live without ... in your kitchen, specifically. A sharp knife -- you need it. A bottle of wine -- you need that. And my workbench that I designed. You can do your preparation like a ninja. It's great.

What's your favorite thing to cook for yourself? I have a beautiful veggie garden. The other day I pulled out some green beans and tomatoes and just roasted those beans and tomato with a little bit of garlic. I love cooking what I grow.

What's your favorite thing to cook for a crowd? I'm lucky. I have a wood-fire oven at home, so I will throw an entire dish into the oven, cook some mussels and some clams and some lobster with some white wine and parsley, put that on the table and just and let people crack their own. Also I love roasting meats, so I'll even do a whole cote de boeuf.

Speaking of large pieces of meat, even your line of prep tools is sexy with names like "Bump and Grind," "Magnetic Attraction" and "Hold Me." Do you sometimes feel like a bit of a piece of meat yourself? [laughs, because I'm hilarious] Y'know what? We're a really small brand. Harry [Pouroundis] and I funded this brand ourselves ... so we can be a bit more playful with it. We can use post-consumer recycled packaging, we can be a bit more current, and to me, have a bit more fun with it.

You obviously travel a lot. What's your favorite country to eat in and why? Oh my god. [long pause] Well, I'm on my way to Italy. We actually leave in a couple of days for Italy and I cannot wait to get there. The food is always good. Even when it's bad it's good. It's just so simple and beautiful. I love to eat in France, but I'll choose Italy. You can eat at the high end, you can eat at the low end. You can get up in the morning and have a cappuccino and that can make you very happy.

How did you get started? What's your bio? I started cooking with my mom and my granny when I was a little kid. Then I moved to sort of the professional world I guess, and cooked in a five-star restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. Then I moved then to Europe and worked for a chef there, got my ass kicked for seven or eight years in a crazy kitchen, then moved to The States, got on a TV show and now here I am talking to you!

Easy as that.

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