Parenting

In the kitchen with Curtis Stone

In his latest cookbook, What’s For Dinner?, the celebrity chef and host of Top Chef Masters helps you get a delicious family meal on the table while keeping busy schedules in mind. Plus: Enter for a chance to receive Stone's latest cookbook!

Curtis Stone is dad to Hudson, 18 months. Photo: Quentin Bacon

You and your fiancée, actress Lindsay Price, both have busy careers. Your website says you live out of a suitcase. How do you make sure your family eats well?
It can be a challenge, for sure. But I’m a big believer in eating dinner together. With a little planning, you can whip up delicious, healthy meals and sit down together to share them.

What’s been your approach to food with your son, Hudson?
I’m really lucky that he eats almost everything. He’s really adventurous with food. He pretty much eats a simple version of whatever Lindsay and I are eating. I want him to keep exploring and discovering new foods. I grow a lot of our food, and I like to take him out into the garden and show him the strawberries, pick edible flowers and smell ripe tomatoes.

Has having a child changed the way you cook?
Having a child has changed everything! I have to keep things really pure and simple when I cook for Hudson, which means no spices, seasonings, oil or butter. It’s really brought me back in touch with the beauty of Mother Nature’s ingredients. For instance, carrots are naturally so sweet and beets are so vibrantly coloured. It’s been amazing.

You worked with home cooks on Take Home Chef. What did you learn about what works in a home kitchen from being on that show?
My number one rule is to make sure your knife is sharp. Trust me, it makes cooking easier. The book is divided into different sections like “Motivating Mondays,” “Thrifty Thursdays,” and “Dinner Party Saturdays.”

Why did you break it down like that?
We all have busy lives and have our own set of challenges to getting dinner on the table each night. I created these chapters as a road map through some of the most common ones. They’re organized in the order I usually face them. For instance, Mondays are the start of the week, and I like to put my best foot forward with healthy meals. On Wednesdays, we do our housework and I hate to mess up the kitchen with a lot of dirty dishes, so it’s a perfect night for a one-pot meal, which makes for an easy cleanup.

You say in the book that your mother’s roast pork is the best thing you’ve ever eaten. Do you make that dish for your family?
I love to make roast pork. But no one gets the crackling crispy like my mum.

What’s your favourite dish to make for your family when you have some extra time?
There’s nothing like cooking a long and leisurely Sunday dinner when you have the time. I’ve included some of my favourites in my book, including Pot Roast with Cherry Tomatoes, and Fingerling Potatoes and Olives. The slowly simmered meat is tender enough to carve with a spoon.

What’s your favourite make-ahead dinner for your family?
Lindsay loves lasagna; it’s such a quick, easy and versatile dish. I can assemble it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven when we’re ready to eat. Other dishes like gratins, braises or stews also work as delicious make- ahead meals.

You’re from Australia, but now live in LA. What differences do you see between Australia and North America in terms of how parents approach food with their kids?
I don’t see a huge difference. There’s this beautiful trend going on where parents feed their kids seasonal, organic and unprocessed foods, and it really crosses all continents.

What do you love about the Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Salad?
I just love the dressing on this salad. It shows off all of these amazing and vibrant flavours, and it even does double duty as the marinade for the chicken. What’s more, this delicious main-course salad is packed with veggies, so the kids can get a healthy meal that they’ll love to eat. It’s a flexible salad, so feel free to toss in or take out ingredients to suit everyone’s taste. You can serve it family-style in a big bowl and let everyone dig in.