You can take the man out of Australia but you can’t take the Australia out of the man.
Melbourne-born chef, Curtis Stone might be happily settled in LA with his wife, Lindsay Price, and son, Hudson; however Curtis says he would still choose a meat pie over a hot dog any day of the week.
Curtis is currently in Australia with family, celebrating his brother’s birthday and promoting his latest cooking product – the pizza stone. This comes as a break from planning his new LA restaurant, which is set to open in the next six months.
He chats to Sydney Observer about the inspiration behind his restaurant’s menu and his go-to spring ingredients.
The weather is really heating up now: what kinds of ingredients do you like to cook with at this time of the year?
I think with spring comes a bunch of exciting ingredients. Things like asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries really come into season; lamb is great in springtime of course.
The transition is a bit like fashion, as you take your sweaters and jumpers and push them to one side of the closet, you can do the same with the slow cooker, and the braises, stews and soups that we love during winter. Instead we start thinking about salads, eating outside and firing up the barbie again. It’s an exciting time of year!
Tell us about the new restaurant you’re opening in LA.
It’s a tiny little place – it’s going to have 30 seats, so we’re excited about it. The menu is still in the works – I want to let the market drive it and see what sort of ingredients we’ve got to work with. At the moment I’m thinking of highlighting one ingredient at a time and doing a five or six course tasting menu around that ingredient. Hopefully we’ll change the menu once a month, so as the season changes so will what we offer.
You’ve been living in the States for over seven years now, what foods do you look forward to having when you come back to Australia?
The coffee for sure! Also it sounds ridiculous but I really miss pies. In the States you can’t find a decent pie. I play a little golf and it’s always a hot dog when I would die to have a pie. So as soon as I come back I like to have a game of golf and get a pie into my hand. I think we’ve got a really good grasp of Asian food here too, I love that Eastern attitude toward food that we have in Australia.
Is it ever difficult to find healthy eating options in the US?
It’s really hard to talk about America as a whole. If you go to one of the major theme parks, then yes it’s really hard to find healthy options. But I live down the road from the Hollywood Farmers Market, which is one of the best open-air farmers markets I’ve ever been to. It’s filled with organic ingredients that are grown literally on the doorstep.
You have a two-year-old son, Hudson. Do you have any secret recipes to make sure he eats his vegetables?
We’ve been lucky with him so far. He sort of eats everything that we throw his way. Truthfully I think the most important thing with feeding the kids is giving them what you’re eating and then all sitting together to eat it. They start living your lifestyle and hopefully you’re eating healthy yourself, so that means that they do the same.
I was talking to somebody the other day and they said, “But how do you stop him from eating chicken nuggets and chips?” and I’m like, “How do you stop them from smoking cigarettes and drinking beer?” It’s the same thing; if you don’t give it to them then they won’t do it!
Do you have a personal favourite meal?
I love the delicate nature of seafood, crab is probably my favourite thing to come out of the ocean and I like a bit of spice in my food. So a good curry crab might be the one if I had to pick.
What about a show-stopping dessert?
My go-to is a salted caramel pot de crème, which is a baked custard that I garnish with a little sea salt. It’s just beautiful, sweet, rich custardy caramel – oh my god it’s so good.
Your Curtis Stone ‘Pizza Stone’ is currently available at Coles. What do you think is the key to cooking a good pizza?
I love them to have a nice thin crust. Then the key to it is not to put too much on the pizza. As we transition into spring, zucchini works really well, zucchini flowers are beautiful, with a bit of salami or something like that. There are so many things to put on a pizza and that’s the beauty of it.
Have you ever considered moving back to Australia?
I’d love to come back to Australia; I really would, especially to be around my family – as you have kids you want your kids to know their cousins. We’re really fortunate at the moment, we get to divide our time and travel as a family, so that’s working for us right now, but who knows what’s in the future.