You most likely know Curtis Stone as the strapping host of Top Chef Masters and assorted other shows, but you might not realize that the Australian is also a world-class chef. He cooked in London under Marco Pierre White and was head chef at his Quo Vadis, and has his first-ever restaurant in the works in Los Angeles. He’s also helping Lindt Chocolate promote their "Taste the Difference" campaign, in which he appears in a series of educational vignettes intended to teach the public about the importance of craftsmanship and quality ingredients, and is also spreading the word that the company is giving away 2 million coupons via their Facebook page.
We had a chance to chat with Stone, and he filled us in on how his restaurant is shaping up, what his Halloween and Thanksgiving plans are, and why he decided to partner with Lindt.
What are you currently working on from a restaurant standpoint?
The biggest project I am working on at the moment is my first-ever restaurant, which I’m opening in January 2014 in Beverly Hills (212 South Beverly Dr., to be exact). The restaurant will seat 29 people at any one time and with each service, there will be seven or eight chefs on board creating seasonal farm-to-table tasting plates. This means that an incredible amount of care and attention to detail will be taken with each dish. Each month, we’ll focus on and celebrate one main, seasonal ingredient and work this ingredient into the entire degustation. Opening a restaurant has been a dream of mine for a very long time so it’s pretty surreal that it’ll be open in only a couple of months’ time.
What’s different about the dining scene in Australia versus the U.S.?
America is a really diverse country with equally diverse eating habits and cuisine. Whenever I travel, people talk about, 'Oh, the American diet,' and I feel like saying, 'There’s no such thing as an American diet, it’s impossible to say that.' There’s a huge difference between New York and San Francisco and Kansas, you know? It’s so diverse and there are so many different things going on that you could never put a blanket over it, so it really changes depending on where you are in the country. The dining scene is fantastic in Australia, however it’s a little more generic.
Another difference is that Australian food incorporates more Asian ingredients and technique because geographically we are closer. In America we have a lot more Latin American influences. Both cuisines have the richest seasonal ingredients available so it’s all about interpretation.
What are your Halloween plans?
Halloween is such a fun and spooky time in the States. We celebrate Halloween in Australia, but in the States, the celebrations are really taken to the next level. My dad and step-mum happen to be visiting from Melbourne over Halloween and I’m taking them to a Lucha VaVOOM "Halloween special" show. Lucha VaVOOM, a group of performers that combine Mexican masked wrestling, striptease, and comedy (crazy combo, I know!), were special guests on season five of Top Chef Masters. I had such a rad time filming with them, so I’m excited to see what they have in store for the Halloween show.
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving at all? If so, what’s on your table?
Yes, Thanksgiving is a really special time of year and I always celebrate at home with my family. Food is king on this special holiday! We eat a traditional roasted turkey with gravy and of course pumpkin pie. My mother-in-law is Korean and brings delicious Korean food to all of our family celebrations. It’s great to have a few days to slow down and be thankful for everything in our lives.
What makes Lindt chocolates different from other chocolates?
As a chef, quality ingredients and passion are key to giving my guests the best-tasting dishes. I’m a self-confessed chocoholic and I’ve partnered with Lindt for the "Taste the Difference" program because of the craftsmanship and care they put into all of their products — it mirrors the attention to detail that I take with each dish I create. It’s my mission, from one chocolate lover to all chocolate lovers out there, to understand and taste this difference for themselves. This is the very reason why Lindt is sharing 2 million coupons on their Facebook page.
What might someone think when they try Lindt for the very first time?
For me, it’s the texture, richness, and roundness that makes Lindt chocolate so special. I have been known to do a little happy dance after eating a piece (or two, three…). I’m a big fan of Lindt EXCELLENCE A Touch of Sea Salt. This chocolate should come with a warning sign.