Swoon-worthy chef Curtis Stone teaches us how to bump and grind
Hunky Take Home Chef host Curtis Stone heated up the kitchen at Dish Cooking Studio earlier this week with a demo of a few recipes from his fourth cookbook, Relaxed Cooking With Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favourite Mood. Despite the suggestive title, the book is an homage to his beloved grandmother, with whom he first cooked as a kid, and is all about approaching the kitchen with nonchalance. The surf-ready Aussie (frosted-tip faux hawk and all) cooked up a four-course storm with his own line of swanky kitchen gadgets. True to his book’s promise, Stone set the tone for a casual encounter: “I’m going to have a nice, relaxed dinner party with you,” said the laid-back lad. “It means I don’t have to feel bad walking around with a glass of wine in my hand.”
At first, we took his advice, feeling perfectly relaxed as we ate the chef’s Asian-inspired tuna ceviche with refreshingly zesty lime and avocado. But for the next course—garlic shrimp linguine with homemade pesto—panic: Stone pulls us out of the audience and into the kitchen to Bump and Grind with him using his cheekily named kitchen gizmo. “What gives me a shit about a mortar and pestle is how big it is,” he says. Stone’s sexy stainless steel version is easier on the bicep and ergonomically shaped for optimal grinding. He tells us to put some hip into it. We smile politely before the crowd until the chef moves on to his next course and his next victim. When one guest gently declines the dijon-brushed, herb-crusted roasted rack of lamb, Stone cries, “Security, I’ve got a vegetarian over here!” But all is forgiven when we tuck in to berry-dotted and whipped cream–drenched clafoutis.
As he diced and seared with ease, the host fielded questions from the audience. One asked why he only picks up hot chicks on his show, to which the blushing chef replied, “I want to clear my name—the producer picks them! Which you can imagine is devastating for me.” He admits that of 140 Take Home Chef episodes, only a couple have featured guys. The Michelin-starred chef also told stories of working with eccentric mentor Marco Pierre White, who once counted cuts of beef in the kitchen while underwear-clad and smoking a Cohiba. The crowd also ate up the gastro-wit’s side-splitting Prince Philip impression, perfected when Her Majesty had him over to Buckingham Palace.
The west coaster says that Toronto is a city he loves. Stone had a great meal at the Hazelton Hotel’s One, but he also gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the peameal bacon sandwiches at St. Lawrence Market. When we caught him between girl-swaddled photo ops to ask what it’s like to be a celebrity chef with heartthrob status (there are 22 Facebook fan pages dedicated to him), he said of himself and his friends, “We used to be a stinky bunch of guys who couldn’t get into a club after work. Now we’re just a stinky bunch of guys.”