Celebrity chef Curtis Stone joined us in Rockefeller Plaza for a chat in Ocean Spray's cranberry bog, where he dished on his favorite Thanksgiving cooking tips and what his weapon of choice would be in a food fight.
Award-winning Chef Curtis Stone gets ready to give a helping hand to first-time hosts as they master the Thanksgiving menu at Ocean Spray’s Thanksgiving cranberry bog.
I imagine there's always a conversation about whether you'll be cooking at home or inviting the family to your restaurants Maude or Gwen for Thanksgiving, so what's the plan this year?
CURTIS STONE: We’ve never done that before although this year could be that exception because we are extremely busy this Thanksgiving! But it doesn’t matter if you’re cooking for two or 22, the rules are kind of the same. You want it to feel traditional and festive, with a sense of family togetherness. The way to do that is to lean on family traditions. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to create some new ones on your own. Ocean Spray performed a survey of how many New Thanksgiving hosts there will be this year hosting for the first time and it was something like 20 million people! So, that makes you think twice about what to do as a first time host.
Is there an equivalent to Thanksgiving in Australia? Or is this food holiday an adopted one for you?
CS: There’s not actually. But, it’s still my favorite holiday of the year. I’ve lived now in the states for 11 years and our Thanksgiving is a little bit of a mashup because Lindsay’s mom is Korean, so occasionally she’ll put out some kimchi for the table and that is what’s beautiful about our Thanksgiving. There's nothing else to think about, there are no gifts, it’s just a family gathering with delicious food. That’s what I love about it!
I've overheard many Thanksgiving debates about the right way to prepare the turkey. People have become very particular with the way they prep for the holidays, no?
CS: That is so true! There are some little tips and tricks that would help you along the way. Brining the turkey is one for instance. We’ve heard that word before, but a lot of people don't really know what it means. It’s like a marinade and you can soak the turkey overnight in that brine. You can use things such as fruit or cranberry juice. It's a beautiful way to do it because you get a balance that is both sweet and acidic.
Oven or grilled turkey?
CS: The way we do it is in the oven and pretty traditional. We do brine it, but I have done it in the grill before and if you want to do that, you'll want to invest in a digital read thermometer so you can actually know the temperature and maintain it. I like to be inside and use my big kitchen for Thanksgiving. Lots of people like to grill outside, but I prefer the comfort of my home!
How did Los Angeles become your home?
CS: LA kind of happened by accident, I moved over to the states for a short period of time to work on a show called Take Home Chef. It was meant to be just a couple of shows and ended up being 140! I met my beautiful wife and we have two kids and a couple of restaurants now, Maude and Gwen.
Have you ever thought about expanding or opening a restaurant in NYC?
CS: It’s a tricky balance, and it sure isn’t easy. My attitude towards that has always been that I want to do it properly. At the moment, having too many doors open would be too difficult. There are only so many hours in the day and I want to put more time into the restaurants I have.
I'm granted one whacky question per interview. So, pretend you're at your dinner table and a food fight breaks out. What is your weapon of choice, what do you grab on the table first?
CS: I would have to say a cream pie, because that sounds like something i would like to have. I’ve never been in a food fight, so I wouldn’t know where to start!
I imagine you've nearly done it all, but is there anything that you still want to go out and get?
CS: You know what I would love? I would love to live in the country. I would love to have a little farm and some animals and grow my fruits and vegetables and, of course, build a cranberry bog! I’m actually a really simple guy, I live in a big city, I’ve lived in London, in Melbourne, in LA. The idea of being in the country and living the simple life is something I want.
Photography by: Photography courtesy Ocean Spray