On The Phone With: Curtis Stone, Host of Top Chef Masters and Author of What’s for Dinner?

 The following interview was conducted by D Magazine intern Sheila Dang.

WHATS FOR DINNER cover (1)If you’re not already familiar with Curtis Stone, then chances are you don’t know food. The Australian chef first appeared on the American television circuit in 2006 as host of Take Home Chef on TLC, and since then, has done everything from Celebrity Apprentice to guest appearances on The Today Show and Ellen.

Currently, Stone is on his fourth season as host of Top Chef Masters and will join the cast of Bravo’s culinary-adventure series Around the World in 80 Plates. To top it off, his new cookbook, What’s for Dinner? Has just gone on sale. The book features a ton of delicious recipes organized by a different theme for every day of the week. Stone will also be visiting Dallas on April 19 for a book-signing at Central Market (5750 E. Lovers Ln.) I was able to chat with him over the phone to hear more about his book (and listen to that great Aussie accent.)

Sheila Dang: So why did you decide to focus specifically on dinner in this cookbook?

Curtis Stone: I got to do a TV show when I first came to America, and I went around the country and spoke to hundreds of cooks in the kitchens and was able to really connect with people and their challenge with putting dinner on the table. Dinner is the main meal that we serve here in the states, and it’s the one we stress out most about.  I would love it if everyone was cooking for their families because I think there’s so much to be gained from it. You compare the two scenarios where somebody cooks, and then you walk in and you smell it, and you can appreciate what they’ve done for you. You communicate with each other, you cooperate. It’s such a difference experience as opposed to opening a box and scarfing down your food.

SD: I really like how you organized the book by days of the week. Is your busy life what inspired you to organize it that way?

CS: We are all busy and I thought the challenges that we face are the same depending on the day of the week. On Monday, you’re coming off of the weekend, and that’s why “Motivating Mondays” is a collection of healthy meals to start your week off on the right foot. Tuesday is a busy day in the office, so I have “Time-saving Tuesdays.” Wednesday is when I do all of my cleaning. My kitchen is spotless on Wednesday and the last thing I want to do is mess it up, so that was sort of the take-out day for a while. But what you really need is just one pot, so I have “One-pot Wednesdays” and there’s not much cleaning up to do. Thrifty Thursday is all about being budget conscious. Friday is about getting the weekend started, and Saturday and Sunday is when you entertain.

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SD: Do you have a favorite day of the week?

CS: Sunday is probably my favorite day to sit down at the dinner table because that’s when you sort of have a little bit more space with your family. I think Sunday is pretty special.

SD: You said the original title of the book was going to be “Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life.” What are some of your best time-saving tips?

CS: Getting a little bit of preparation in ahead of time is always helpful. Having a clear plan helps expedite the whole process. You can do some basic preparations like cut vegetables and slice some onions. Pull all your ingredients out of the fridge, take them all out of the bags, and have everything in plain sight. If you go to your fridge six times to get one item, it’s six times the work. Pull out all your ingredients from the start.

SD: I imagine you’re always the one cooking for your friends. Do you ever get to sit back and have someone cook for you?

CS: What I do is I enlist the help of my friends. If I’m having a party or a big barbeque or something, I’ll invite people and give them jobs, so I end up getting to cook with them! Or I’ll ask them to bring something; you know, there’s absolutely no shame in that. If you’re the one entertaining, there’s nothing wrong with asking someone to bring dessert or salad.

SD: What do you like most about our food here in Texas?

CS: The first time I came to Texas, I honestly expected everyone to wear big hats and belt buckles, but I came to eat a lot of barbeque because I love barbeque. What I found in Dallas was this incredible cosmopolitan city that had chefs that were doing really interesting things. The ribs in the book were inspired by my trip to Texas, so everyone is going to have to give those a shot and let me know how they taste.

 

Sheila Dang is a D Magazine intern and a junior majoring in Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas.