Channel surf for a few minutes any night of the week, and chances are good you’ll run into a show starring Curtis Stone. The blond Australian-born chef has been everywhere in the past few years, flashing his easygoing smile and doling out cooking tips in his relaxed Aussie accent. Celebrity Apprentice. The Biggest Loser. America’s Next Great Restaurant. Check.
Now, about to begin filming his fifth season of Bravo’s hit show Top Chef Masters, and raising his to 2-year-old Hudson, his son with partner Lindsay Price, Stone took some time to talk with us about why he thinks eating locally and sustainably matters—and where he shops in Los Angeles.
“I'm currently in the middle of the most important job of my life, raising my new son Hudson,” he says, “and I’m looking at food in a whole new way.” He laughs, “You know, making those purees, you inevitably taste them—sometime off your kid's cheek, and it's like, holy sh--t, those carrots are sweet! Without all of the tricks and salt and spices, you get the real flavor.”
“No wonder kids don’t like food in jars,” he says.
He sees a trend toward more holistic eating, though he acknowledges some people are getting there more quickly than others. “I had a friend of mine recently complain to me that her kid was picky because he won't eat mac ‘n cheese out of a box, only the homemade stuff, and I was like, well that's because the stuff in the box is not normal!”
To encourage people to choose home-cooked meals, Stone has written a number of cookbooks. His newest, Curtis Stone: What’s for Dinner, is due out in April 2013, and aims to give readers super-simple recipes for every night of the week. The book is fun, he says: “Monday is Motivating Monday, in case you drank too much over the weekend. Tuesday is Time-Saving Tuesday, we have One-Pot Wednesday, Thrifty Thursdays, Five Ingredient Friday—all these little angles that make meal planning easier.”
Stone, who spent time in the U.K before coming to the U.S. in 2006 to host TLC's Take Home Chef, says he’s seen the food scene in the United States come a long way in the past few years. But he takes a pragmatic approach when it comes to pushing consumers toward organic, local ingredients: “People have crazy lives and can’t always do it all.”
But he says, “You can definitely taste the difference when you're using ingredients without pesticides and raised with love. The saying about a happy chicken tasting better is definitely true."
Los Angeles is a haven for those looking for sustainable, organic food. “I feel like L.A. is really the home of farmers' markets,” he says. “I know there are a lot of places that claim that, but I think we do a really good job of them here in L.A. I’m a regular every Sunday at the one in Hollywood, it’s close to home. I go to Santa Monica sometimes on a Wednesday.”
What are his other Los Angeles picks? “Beverly Hills Cheese Shop has an incredible selection of local cheeses,” he says. “And you understand all the creameries where this cheese comes from.” He mentions the meat selection at Lindy & Grundy butchers, and also “the amazing, beautiful seafood at Santa Monica Seafood.”
Stone (obviously) knows what he’s talking about. It’s shops like these that are making locally sourced and sustainable foods more than just a passing trend. As they gain popularity, ethical food choices are evolving into the norm instead of the exception.
If you’d like to explore cool food shops in your own area, then check out TakePart Tastemakers, our nationwide guide to “food done right.”
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Nichol hails from Minnesota, but has worked in food journalism in New York and Los Angeles for more than a decade. She served as an editor with Gourmet magazine, and has contributed to several other national food publications. Email Nichol | @cedarsonic | TakePart.com