Curtis Stone on Tasmanian Trout, Finger Limes, and the SoBe Wine & Food Festival

A preview with Chef Curtis Stone of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Curtis Stone Interview | South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Americans have gotten to know the Melbourne-born, Bravo culinary host from his television hosting duties on Top Chef Masters and Around the World in 80 Plates, but may not know that he cut his teeth in London under the infamous three-star Michelin Chef Marco Pierre White at Café Royal, Mirabelle, and Quo Vadis. Genial and handsome, Stone's good looks and winning personality have gotten him far. These days, the biggest complaint any detractor has really had much luck throwing at him is that he doesn't have a restaurant. As Grub Street reported last year, and as he quasi-confirmed in the interview below, he seems to be doing something to change that. 

While we couldn't get him to elaborate on a possible restaurant in Los Angeles (or speculate on where the after-after-party will be), in this interview with Stone previewing the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, he does discuss the events he'll be participating in and the Miami restaurants on his checklist during the upcoming festival February 21 through the 24th.

You’re hosting Moet Hennessy's The Q After Dark this year (noted on the site as the after party: “No party is complete without the AFTER party”). Can you tell us a little about the event and what about it you’re most looking forward to?
There’s true beauty in late-night food—it’s delicious and relaxed and works with a cocktail. With that in mind, we’re making authentic Mexican Florida shrimp tacos, cooked on a plancha and served in hand rolled tortillas with a zesty Diablo sauce. I think the SOBE fest is saving the best for last!

You'll also be doing a demo at the Grand Tasting pavilion, correct? Can you talk a little about what you'll be doing at the Grand Tasting?
It’s going to be a high-energy, interactive show. I like to start with a cocktail to set the mood, bring people up on stage, and play great music. Food is fun. I like my demos to reflect that. 

Just as no party is complete without the AFTER party, there's often an AFTER AFTER party. Any news on what that hot spot is going to be this year?
Those things always come together pretty spontaneously.

What sets Miami apart from all other cities, food-wise?
Like Miami itself, the food in Miami has this casual sexiness. Miami is home to so many different cultures, cuisines and cooking styles; there’s always something new to explore.

This isn't your first time round at SOBE, right? What's your favorite part about the South Beach Wine & Food Festival? Is there any one event you look forward to more than others?
Every food festival has it’s own special vibe and SOBE is just as fun. There’s all of this amazing food that’s made on the beach in Miami in February. Everyone has a good time at this festival.

What restaurants are on your must-eat list in Miami this year?
Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, maybe The Dutch in the W South Beach.

Any new Miami restaurants or chefs on your radar that you're looking to check out?
I’m from L.A. and Bazaar by José Andrés is one of my favorites, so I can’t wait to check it out in Miami.

What is one city you did NOT to travel to for ‘Around the World in 80 Plates’, but would have liked to?
Havana, Cuba. I’ve got to get there.

Anything going on in Australia cuisine wise that hasn't caught on yet here in the States that 1) you think Americans are completely missing out on, or 2) really think has potential to take off here?
Tasmanian ocean trout, also known as steelhead, is such a beautiful and versatile fish. It has a firm flesh and luscious flavor and it can hold up to grilling, roasting, baking and sautéing. Another one is finger limes, which grow wild in Australia. The pulp is formed into this citrus caviar with this beautiful zesty flavor that tastes like a cross between a lime and a grapefruit.

Mid last year you announced that you were hoping to open up a restaurant in L.A., that you hadn't signed a lease anywhere but were getting really close. Where's the project at right now? Anything you can share about it?
I should have a lot to announce very soon. Stay tuned!

Any other new plans on the horizon you can share?
My fifth cookbook, "What’s for Dinner?" is coming out on April 9, 2013. It’s a guide for navigating all the challenges you face getting dinner on the table every night. Whether you’re trying to eat a bit healthier, looking to save a little money, or want to throw a killer dinner party, there are recipes and tips and techniques that can help you serve a gorgeous home cooked meal.

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Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Read more articles by Arthur, or click here to follow Arthur on Twitter.