New ‘Iron Chef’ Thrills: Michelin-Starred Curtis Stone Fun At Netflix
Get set for sizzles, swoons and surprises on Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend — a scrumptious new Netflix series that has reimagined Food Network’s Iron Chef America, whipping that iconic gastronomic TV battle to an even higher level. In a spectacularly grand-designed Kitchen Stadium, eight 45-minute episodes — chock-full of curiosity, creativity and crème de la crème craft — launch June 15. Michelin-starred, Los Angeles-based Curtis Stone, as an Iron Chef, joins the masterful line-up with Iron Chefs Marcus Samuelsson, Gabriela Cámara, Dominique Crenn and Ming Tsai. They vie with seven buzz-worthy challenger chefs for the ultimate Legend title. Be wowed by eye-opening ingredients, cooking techniques and imaginative presentations. Born in Australia, Curtis has galloped across the globe, training in Europe under legendary Chef Marco Pierre White (often called the first celebrity chef). Today, Stone’s bountiful successes include acclaimed restaurants — Maude in Beverly Hills, Gwen Butcher Shop and Restaurant in Los Angeles and Georgie in Dallas — plus a full-service catering company Curtis Stone Events, frequent TV appearances, cookbooks (his sixth: Good Food, Good Life) and an attractive line of Kitchen Solutions cookware. Stone’s dedication to causes through his #Commit2One initiative has raised money and awareness for organizations such as National Young Farmer Coalition, AdoptTogether and Share Our Strength, which works to end childhood hunger and poverty in the United States through its No Kid Hungry campaign. Stone and I chatted about Iron Chef elation, his love of travel and the dad-thing that has brought him joy this year.
Quest for an Iron Legend
Laura Manske: You’ve participated in many food shows and challenges as host, judge and competitor. Did Netflix rock your world?
Curtis Stone: Iron Chef has always been the pinnacle of culinary competitions — the hardest, the most respected within our industry. An opportunity with Netflix? Yes! Netflix has a global footprint. To know that the show will be shown in countries around the world is super exciting. Netflix brings to Iron Chef an existing franchise. It has made the show the biggest and best version that it could ever be. That is a real honor to be a part of. Oh my goodness, yes, of course!
Manske: Your smartest lesson being part of this show?
Stone: I learned a lot — both from my competitors and from my fellow Iron Chefs. That’s the beautiful thing about being a chef: You are always an apprentice, always learning and challenging yourself. There is so much in the culinary arts that you can’t possibly know it all. To watch other masters was really special. It keeps you humble. I’m literally up against some of the best chefs in the world. Yes, it’s a competition, but also a personal thrill to be in the same kitchen with these people.
Manske: What one thing do you want viewers to take away most about you?
Stone: Chefs can become a little pigeon-holed — [tied to] the kind of food we cook in our restaurants at the moment. [On Iron Chef], you are given [themed] challenges, such as comfort food or street food or another totally different [theme] than what you normally cook. To be able to compete [that way] is fun. Whether it’s making a sandwich or a curry — those are not things that I serve in my restaurants — [gives me an opportunity to] do a great version of them. A good chef should be able to do different things.
Manske: Your most vivid food memory as a young child?
Stone: Being with my mum in her kitchen, watching her bake. She would make cookies. I was a greedy little kid, sitting there waiting for her to be finished with the bowls or the beaters or the wooden spoons so that I could nosh on the raw batter before the cookies went into the oven. Then watching the cookies bake in the oven and grabbing one as soon as the [trays] came out. I’ve got lots of memories like that as a young kid. I’ve always been obsessed with food.
Manske: Your favorite food?
Stone: I remember the first time that I tried a white truffle. We didn’t have those in Australia; they are a fresh product and don’t travel well, at least [years ago] they didn’t. When I moved to Europe, the scent of fresh truffle — oh my god, what is that? It has been my favorite ingredient ever since. I’ve done entire menus around them. I always purchase them from Europe. They are very special. To me, truffles are kind of like jewelry. My wife likes jewelry, but I’d rather spend money to eat a bag of white truffles than put [a thing] around my neck. There is also a crazed romance in how that ingredient comes to life. You’ve got to have the proper dog that digs near the roots of a hardwood tree. There’s something special about that, too.
Manske: Where is the place you have traveled that you love most?
Stone: It’s almost an impossible question to answer! If I had to choose: The mountains of Spain’s Rioja region. When I was there, it was so moody and sexy. Foggy and kind of smokey. The air had a brilliant damp scent. The food was unbelievable. Everything is steeped in tradition, yet the people have a new way of thinking. You see it in the architecture, cuisine. Yes, Rioja.
Manske: Where would you most like to travel that you have never been to?
Stone: I love Southeast Asia. I have spent a lot of time there. But one place has eluded me: South Korea, where my wife’s mother was born. So we have family history there. I’d love to go to South Korea.
Manske: Fantasy question. You’re stranded alone on a deserted island for a month. Magically, three food items would be there for you. What would they be?
Stone: Pork. Probably my favorite meat. You can do so many different things with a pig. I have a sweet tooth as well, so chocolate. And peaches, my favorite fruit. I’ll just drink rainwater.
Manske: Another fantasy question. With whom would you like to dine once? It can be someone living or dead.
Stone: My granny, Maude. I named my first restaurant after her. She passed before I became a chef and traveled the world. She was a big influence in my life, so I’d like to tell her about the restaurant and what has happened to me.
Manske: What is on your near horizon for this next lap around the sun?
Stone: I’ve always wanted to keep my restaurant business relatively manageable. I have not had the ambition to have my name on 50 doors. I want to have wonderful quality and be really involved in the restaurants that I do have. I work with dedicated, talented people. I am very fortunate. We are always looking to push our boundaries and make the restaurants better and brighter. But my most important job is being a dad. This year, I was my oldest son’s assistant coach on his basketball team. I loved it! With my restaurants and my family, I am pretty happy. And, of course, getting opportunities with Netflix is super exciting.
Manske: Your food pet peeve?
Stone: When a hotel’s room service food arrives lukewarm. Food has to be served at the right temperature.
Manske: What are your guiding principles?
Stone: Be authentic. Be honest. Don’t shake things that you don’t necessarily want, because you might get them. Be humble. Be a good person.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
For even more delicious scoops, check out: Alton Brown Reveals Netflix’s New Supersized ‘Iron Chef’ Culinary Competition.