On TLC's Take Home Chef, chef Curtis Stone whips up gourmet meals in strangers' homes. When he's in his own kitchen, this Australian has his own style.
What is your favorite comfort food?
See what kitchen tools he can't live without. Plus, Curtis shares the menu for his last meal!
Curtis: It changes, you know, it depends where I am. If I'm in Australia, it's my mom's roast lamb. ... As soon as I think of comfort food, I think of my mom. She makes these incredible whole wheat oatmeal cookies, which is a strange comfort food, right?
Then, if I was in England, because I lived in England for eight years, it'd be Toads in the Hole. They makes like a Yorkshire pudding mixture ... and then they fill a tray with it. They put a lot of sausages in the tray, and then they bake it in the oven so it rises. Then, there's all these sausages poking up.
Who was your greatest cooking influence?
Curtis: Marco Pierre White. I worked for him for eight years. He was the youngest chef in the world to win three Michelin stars. Some incredible chefs came through his kitchens. Gordon Ramsay worked for him; a guy named Stephen Terry worked for him. It was a pretty awesome place to be involved in. ... His was the first cookbook I ever read. Marco had this huge reputation for being crazy, you know, working ridiculous hours, and I loved that sort of challenge.
What was the worst meal you've made and for whom?
Curtis: The worst meal I've ever made was for my sister. I was running a new restaurant in Chelsea, in London, called Bluebird. ... They had this big, old fire oven, and it hadn't been used for a couple of years. The old chef had just left it there, and no one had used it, so I just assumed that it hadn't been used because he couldn't be bothered or whatever. So I said to my sister, "Come in. Bring all of your girlfriends, and I'll cook all the food I'm going to put on this new menu."
I wanted to see how hot this oven could get, so I'm burning loads of wood in there. I had it cranked, and she arrived, and they sat down and got their glass of champagne and some bits. ... Then, all this smoke was coming out of the flute of the oven, and I kind of thought, "It must be because it hasn't been used for so long," and it progressively got worse. What had happened was there wasn't an appropriate fire void above the oven, so it started a fire in the ceiling. I almost burned down this incredible, AAA-rated heritage building all in the name of cooking this massive meal for my sister.
What's your favorite music to cook to?
Curtis: I think music really sets the scene for whatever you're doing, so it depends what I'm cooking. I always used to play like rock 'n' roll in the kitchen, because it's fast-paced and everyone's running around. But then, in the pastry kitchen, we'd always play classical music. You need to be in a different frame of mind. If I'm cooking on a Sunday, I'll stick some Jack Johnson on and kind of relax and feel pretty chilled out.
What's your favorite ethnic cuisine?
Curtis: It depends on what mood I'm in. I love Southeast Asian food, and Australia's so close to Thailand, Indonesia and places like that that we travel there a lot.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Curtis: I love crab. I think that's probably my favorite savory ingredient because it's so adaptable. ... You can do a chili pepper crab, you can do curried crab, you can do light salads. And I'm a chocoholic, so chocolate's probably actually the first thing I'd go for. ... I just did some Pot de Chocolat in my latest cookbook, and I played with the recipe for a long time. I think I've got it perfect.
What chef would you most like to cook alongside?
Curtis: I was just in Abu Dhabi actually, and there's a guy there named Alain Passard. We were in the same place, and I had a dinner on, and he had a dinner on the same night, so I couldn't go and see his food, but everybody's reports just glowed. I've always sort of followed his career. He's a pretty exciting chef.
Who is your toughest food critic?
Curtis: It's probably my old sous chef. He's a great chef, and he's not got his own restaurant in Toronto—Chris Haworth. We spent so long on the stoves together, and then you sort of go your own ways. It's great have someone to cook a dinner with you, and it's great to challenge each other a little bit.
What are the three kitchen tools you can't live without?
Curtis: Sharp knife, workbench and a nonstick pan. I make a workbench, which has got a hole in the back of it. You can peel your carrots and throw the peelings straight down the hole. It goes to a little stainless steel drawer.
What would you want your last meal to be?
Curtis: I'm pretty decadent. I love—you don't have it as much in America, but my mom makes this roast pork. She leaves the skin on, which turns into this crispy crackling. So I'd probably have like roast pork with an apple sauce, crispy potatoes, some honey-glazed carrots. Oh, I'm going to make myself hungry. What else? I'd have some fresh sea scallops to start, some broad beans in like an orange reduction maybe. Then for dessert, I'd do that pot de chocolat in my book.
Get more advice from Curtis
7 days of dinner recipes
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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