Curtis Stone has a lot to celebrate this year. He has a new baby, Emerson (already named Easy E for his chilled temperament) with his wife actress Lindsay Price, and their first son Hudson has just turned 3. His Beverly Hills restaurant Maude, named after his grandmother. has just won LA Eater’s Restaurant of the Year for 2014 and is one of LA Weekly’s 10 best new restaurants for 2014 and his new book Good Food Good Life is due for release in early 2015. We caught up with Curtis on a whirlwind trip to Australia to promote his Christmas recipes with Coles.
How are you celebrating Christmas?
I’m having Chrisssie with Mum here in Australia. She always cooks roast pork with the best crackling in the world. I can’t get mine as good, even under her instruction. We’ll have mince tarts, and red wine – that’s my job, opening the wine!
Then I’m leaving the next day for LA where I’ll start cooking pretty much straight away. My family Christmas over there will include my Dad and his wife and my wife’s parents, so it’ll be an Aussie/American/Korean mash up.
What are you serving this year?
We’ll start with something light in the morning – maybe some mimosas, some pastries, a slice of quiche, then we’ll have lunch around 3pm.
We’ll definitely have roast pork for lunch. It’s what we always did as a family, so I need to have it to feel like Christmas. My wife likes roast beef so we’ll probably have a standing rib, and we’ll have kimchi. After that probably a cheese platter and a Christmas pudding. I’m hoping my Mum has made me one and I’ll have to smuggle it in to the US.
What’s your favourite Christmas dish?
Definitely the roast pork. In LA it’s Winter so I’ll do it with apple sauce and cranberries. In Australia that doesn’t make sense in summer, so I’d do an avocado, tomato and feta salad – all the colours of Christmas – and maybe add some dried cranberries. I also love my Mum’s mince tarts. I told her I was going to work on the recipe, and I did 10 different versions of it trying to improve it, but ended up nearly exactly where I started – it’s a compliment to her cooking that the recipe couldn’t be improved!
What’s on your Christmas playlist?
My wife is a songwriter, so I totally leave it to her. She kind of has this Christmas carol / Frank Sinatra / Norah Jones thing going on. It feels old-world-y and smooth, but still Christmassy.
What’s your tip for home cooks to make Christmas day easier?
You need to write a plan. Literally, write it down on a piece of paper. Start with the time you want to serve Christmas lunch, write that down, and then work backwards from there. If you want to put the turkey in 3 hours before lunch, put that time down. If you have time to do the veggies or salad while the turkey is cooking, write that down too.
Your plan should include the day before too. If there’s anything you’re going to serve that can be made the day before – do it! Make the parfait, decorate the table, put together your playlist, lay out the candles. Don’t forget to slot in time for opening presents, too. I think what happens is you start relaxing into Christmas and you either miss out on presents because you have to go into the kitchen, or you don’t go into the kitchen and you end up eating lunch at 7pm.
The other important thing is to allocate jobs. Ask someone to bring a playlist on an iPhone. Ask someone else to pick up candles or decorations – let them know what colours you want. It’s nice to be given a job and for everyone to feel included.
Have you ever had a Christmas disaster?
Yes, many! When I lived in London, we used to go to the pub every year to listen to the Queen’s speech. One year I got up, put the turkey in the oven, went to the pub and realised I’d locked us out of the flat. And we lived on the third floor…
We had to jump the fence, steal the neighbour’s ladder and climb in the back window. Crisis averted, just.
What’s on your Christmas wish list?
A rest, and time with my family. After Christmas, we’re pulling the pin for 2 weeks – we’re closing the restaurant and we’re headed to Palm Springs where there’s nothing to do except relax. We’ve had a crazy year, as a business and as a couple, so I can’t wait to get away. In the US they don’t really shut down so much for Christmas but I’m definitely hanging on to that part of Australian culture!