It was in business school that Curtis Stone decided to change tracks, don an apron, and become a chef. After starting at The Savoy Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Stone moved on to train with Marco Pierre White in London at the iconic Cafe Royal, Mirabelle and Quo Vadis. It was only a matter of time before he became host of hit international food show, Surfing the Menu in Australia, which immediately drew the attention of US producers, sparking his career in food television. Stone soon became a household name. With a product line at William Sonoma and a number of hit food shows under his belt, his presence in the industry continues to grow at an astounding rate. Even when interviewing Stone, one can see why his charms even work on the chefs he’s forced to send home on Top Chef Masters. Speaking of Top Chef, Stone will now be gracing the scene of Bravo’s next hit food show, Around the World In 80 Plates, which premieres tonight. It’s here that Stone travels the globe with a group of chefs. For the first time in Food TV, the culinary arena we’ve all become so addicted to will now go international. And with culinary destinations like Florence, Morocco and Thailand, who can resist watching? For us, Stone’s the attraction; whether it’s his philosophy on seasonability and sustainability or simply the fact that he was holding his son, Hudson, throughout this entire interview, this is one foodie The New Potato is finding hard to resist.
What would be your ideal food day?
I actually love to cook breakfast so I have a beautiful vegetable garden, where I get all my vegetables, and I’d probably do a frittata with asparagus, spring peas…and then coffee. The only thing in the world I’m a snob about is great coffee. Some double smoked bacon and freshly squeezed orange juice from my citrus tree in the backyard. Mid-morning maybe I’d take a small stroll around the farmer’s market. And then I love a lingering lunch. You know, a long long lunch. There’s nothing better. Maybe I’d go to a pizzeria at 3 or 4 in the afternoon have some wine, take a little time after to digest. Dinner well, hmm…you know If you started this in New York and ended in LA you could have two dinners, same with Las Vegas. One of my favorite chefs in the world, Jose Andres, has a restaurant called e by Jose Andres in Los Vegas and it’s actually just an eight seat restaurant with a bunch of different courses.
Ok, so we’re ending the ultimate food day in Las Vegas?
Yes, let’s do that because the meal I had at e was amazing. I want to go again. I ate with Ruth Reichl and James Oseland for Top Chef Masters which was really wonderful. It was an incredible dinner and I just sat with great foodies and analyzed. I really love doing that. And like any good dinner, it started with a gin and tonic and ended with a gin and tonic. And since it’s an ultimate food day, I’d then go and gamble, drink a couple of beers, go back up to Blue Ribbon and have a couple of rolls to finish the day off.
Speaking of Top Chef Masters, you’ve been in Food TV for quite some time, starting in Australia then coming to the US. Has it changed since you’ve started?
It’s changed substantially. When I started doing cooking shows, in the one I did (at the time) we travelled around. It was me eating and drinking with my buddies, but it was very informational, very educational and factual. We’d go see incredible organic producers; we’d talk, eat and drink. Now, it’s very competition-based, which has changed the industry (and who gets drawn into the food world) forever.
There’s sort of this false promise ‘Oh I’ll compete and win Top Chef.’ But the reality is there are millions of people in the industry and only a few spots on these shows. So one thing you do have is some people coming into the industry for the wrong reasons. At the same time, for awhile it was tapering off a bit [who was coming into the industry] so all in all it’s definitely a good thing.
But do you think maybe there’s the double-edged sword where sometimes people are coming into the industry more often, but under false pretenses?
All in all food TV is a great thing. But the reality of being a cook is that a good cook has to peel a f*ck of a lot of carrots. There’s not really a shortcut. You don’t have to do it but you’ll never be a truly great chef if you don’t.