For Australian chef Curtis Stone, the answer to stellar, at-home meals lies in a well-stocked kitchen and a few key ingredients. When Stone isn’t chopping seasonal greens at his new L.A. restaurant, Maude, the young father (his son Hudson with actress Lindsay Price is 2 years old) is co-hosting Bravo’s new Top Chef Duels and designing clever solutions for the home cook. Here, he serves up some of his favorite entertaining tips, pantry staples, and even a kitchen soundtrack that is guaranteed to get the party going.
What’s always in your fridge?
I always have a nice selection of cheeses as well as an abundance of good relishes, capers and pickles. I do a lot of pickling myself and I make tomato sauce in the summer. So, I’ve got all that stuff ready to go when guests arrive!
What are some of your top kitchen gear essentials?
A couple of sharp, high-quality knives are hands down the most important tools to have in the kitchen. And I definitely need a good sound system so I can blast my favorite tunes while I’m cooking. I play a bit of rock and roll like The Black Keys when I’m getting ready for service at my restaurant Maude, or something a little more chilled out when I’m cooking at home, like Angus and Julia Stone. When I’m entertaining, I might start the night with something relaxed like Jack Johnson, but later I’ll switch to upbeat oldies or a dance-on-tables-style track like Martin Garrix’s “Animals”.
Favorite ingredient that makes a simple dish shine?
Truffles! I know they’re on the expensive side but I can’t help myself when truffles are in season in the colder months. When I’ve got a gorgeous, big truffle on hand, I shave it over simple dishes like lasagna, pasta, scrambled eggs and risotto. On the less extravagant side of things, I always make sure I have really good quality extra virgin olive oil in my cupboard. Available year round, it’s like liquid gold and every kitchen needs this staple—it’s essential for dressing salads.
What’s your entertaining style?
My wife and I love to entertain at home. We take a pretty relaxed, laid-back approach and cook big, family-style dishes, like a homemade lasagna and salads. Everyone just helps themselves. Brunch is always a nice way to entertain and because we’re blessed with great weather here in L.A., we love to eat outside.
Best foodie vacation you’ve ever been on?
When I was 21 I went on a backpacking trip to Southern Italy. I learned how to make the most luscious homemade pasta and how to brew coffee to full-bodied perfection. I’ll never forget the fact that the day completely revolved around the cooking and sharing of food. It gave me a deep appreciation and understanding for fresh ingredients—in Italy they really live the good life!
Curtis Stone is featured in our August 2014 issue, available on newsstands and for download now. Plus, get the recipe for one of his favorite summer salads: Shrimp with Pearl Barley, Grilled Vegetables and Mint Vinaigrette.