Fame Bites - Curtis Stone
July 28th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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Fame Bites goes inside the belly of the entertainment beast. We're dishing out where the celebrities are eating, what they're eating and who they're eating with.

You may best recognize the strapping Australian as the host of  Bravo’s "Top Chef Masters," TLC's "Take-Home Chef," or as a contestant from Donald Trump’s "Celebrity Apprentice," but fun fact(!), the pretty face on the television can legitimately chef.

So - we recently decided to shoot the breeze with Stone about paying his culinary dues and his mum's cracklins.

A lot of people know you from television, but you are also a legitimate chef. You’ve worked under the notorious (and notoriously talented) Marco Pierre White. Tell us about your kitchen experience.
"I did my apprenticeship in Australia - it was a four-year apprenticeship. I worked there for a few years and I moved to the United Kingdom and worked for Marco Pierre for the following eight or nine years.

His empire grew pretty quickly and I ended up running a couple of his restaurants, including head chef at Quo Vadis. I was executive chef there, and ended up running his whole business as executive chef of the company.

I worked for him for a long time and went off to work for a famous designer named Terrence Conran – and then I moved over to the States."

Was it tough getting your foot in the door, while still wanting to make your own mark?
"I think at the time, I didn’t care much about the media and it never really came up. Stuff in the media came up a little bit later and started off with a couple of guest spots on a morning television shows, followed by someone publishing a book about London’s finest chefs, called London on a Plate, and I was one of those chefs.

You get more and more stuff, and I think working in hardcore crazy kitchens is what you have to do. You grow up wanting to be a great chef and building a name for yourself, but first you have to work for other people and their name - so that’s the journey."

A lot more people are interested in culinary careers because of shows like "Top Chef." What would you say to them?
"It’s got to be something that you love. You know if you don’t have an absolute passion for what it is that you’re doing.

If you are coming to it because of "Top Chef" thinking you can get your own TV show, it's probably not the right career for you. There are only so many chefs who have their own TV show, and a million other chefs who peel carrots all day long.

You’ve got to have a real love for the food and a passion for doing it. If you haven’t got that, then it’s the wrong career move."

You're from Australia. What's that one taste of home that brings you back?
"My mum does this beautiful roast pork dish. In Australia, we leave the skin on the piece of pork so when you roast it, it's like chicharrones – that crispy skin we call cracklins, or the rind of the pork. She does it with beautiful roast veggies and roast potatoes - it’s delicious!"

Who is someone that you’d love to have dinner with? Your dream dinner date, so to speak.
"Wow – it’s a tricky one isn’t it? I guess it would probably be people who have moved the world. Guys like Nelson Mandela and people who have had a big impact - hearing their stories would be pretty amazing.

There are also a couple of incredible chefs that I would love to sit down with and learn their mentality. People like Paul Bocuse – people that really started gastronomy as we know it."

What is one food or drink you cannot go a day without?
"A little bar of chocolate! I find it hard to make it through the day without it. I always have a stash at home. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – you’ve got to have a bit of fun in your life."

What is your recommendation for your favorite summer drink? We need a way to relax and cool down.
"I’m in Nashville and it's bloody hot here! I make this drink with watermelon, fresh mint out of the garden and vodka. You stick it all in a blender with crushed ice and it’s delicious. It shouldn’t be that easy, but it is!"

Devna Shukla is an Associate Producer for CNN's AC360°.

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Filed under: Bite • Columns • Fame Bites • Television • Think • Top Chef

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Ms. Grammar

    That drink sounds delicious. I have to do SOMETHING with all the wild mint growing in my garden. This sounds like a great place to start.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  2. Mildred

    @Callie – I think that a number of people have the impression that TV chefs aren't real, particularly in light of all the cooking reality shows; because we know that reality shows "aren't real". And also some of those reality show's, give people who didn't go through the whole school/apprenticeship/work (or have only been in the business a relatively short time) from the bottom up process a chance at really high profile jobs/kitchens/perks that would take "legitimate chefs" years to get to.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  3. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    Is that Hair Gel?

    July 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • RichardHead

      It's Lard,he couldn't spell Gel.

      July 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  4. Miles

    I like the merkin hair style.

    July 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  5. Caillie

    "..you a legitimate chef"? Apparently you are not a legitimate journalist.

    July 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • WaitWhat?


      July 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
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