The Worst Food Trend in 2019 and 8 Other Culinary Insights From a Celebrity Chef

PHOTO: Clay Larsen

The handsomest man in the culinary world looks back on a tasty 2019.

I told a few people I was interviewing Curtis Stone and almost unanimously they responded with, “Oh, he’s handsome.” And he is. He’s got the look of a celebrity, which certainly helped catapult the Australian-born cook into the sphere of celebrity chef. After all, this is a guy who hosted Top Chef Masters, participated in Celebrity Apprentice (yes, hosted by that guy), and appeared on Ellen and Oprah all before opening up his own restaurant. He’s got a face for television. That’s not to say the man doesn’t have some serious bona fides—he worked under Marco Pierre White for the love of God! This is a talented fella.

And Michelin sure thinks so, too. This summer he got a coveted star for Maude, his first restaurant, which opened in Beverly Hills in 2014. A couple of years later came Gwen in Hollywood, created with his brother Luke, who is also handsome. A third restaurant, Georgie, arrived last month in Dallas. And a fourth will be debuting next year. But, for a celebrity chef, it can’t all be about restaurants—this year, he also starred in his PBS culinary journeyman docu-show, Field Trip With Curtis Stone.

So, with such a busy year behind him, and as we did last year with another celebrity chef, we’re going to look back on Curtis Stone’s year in food.

The favorite dish he served: the pici with smoked vegetable ragu at Maude.Stan Lee

The Best Thing That Happened in the Culinary Industry in 2019

“It’s incredible to see how so many in our industry are advocating for change—whether that’s through financial support and work for non-profits, implementing new systems in their restaurants to champion diversity and sustainability, etc. This year, I committed to No Kid Hungry as part of my #Commit2One initiative to put all my energy behind one charity each year, and it was really special to see how chefs and those in our community are working together to have a real impact for these kids. There’s so much power in the collective.”

And the Worst

Pumpkin Spice Spam.”

The Best Bite of Food He Ate

“I keep thinking back to this bite of porchetta I had right out of the oven when we were filming Field Trip in Umbria. We came across this butcher Massimiliano Angelucci while we were wandering around Montefalco and bonded immediately… He took the whole pig apart, seasoned the meat within an inch of its life, stuffed it with the marinated livers, and then we carried this thing down the street to roast in the oven two doors down from the shop. That first bite of crispy skin was unreal.”

Stone and Maude pastry chef, Yesenia Cruz (far left), in Gas Bay, Australia–the inspiration for his favorite dessert.Paul Donegan

And the Best Dessert

“The chocolate, macadamia, passionfruit, and ginger dessert from the Western Australia regional menu at Maude was pastry chef Yesenia Cruz’s hat tip to [a] surfing excursion [she and I took] in Gas Bay. It was her first time on a board and she was great. For me, let’s just say surfing wasn’t like riding a bike…  Yesenia emulated the curves of the waves in her confection and incorporated one of my favorites from back home–passionfruit.”

The Dish He Most Loved Serving at One of His Restaurants

“I really loved the pici with smoked vegetable ragù that our new executive chef Chris Flint at Maude created for the fall Tuscany menu. I’m definitely not one to shy away from meat, but I thought it was so smart how he reinterpreted this classic Tuscan dish while not compromising any of its soul. All the better when we shave fresh winter truffles over the top.”

The Culinary Show He Binged in 2019

“I continue to love Chef’s Table and season six was just brilliant. There’s been so much evolution in the culinary television space since I initially started out in the early 2000s, and it’s beautiful to see how David Gelb and team are telling the story of the person behind the chef. I want to get to their Street Food next; the vendors are multi-generational and really are the unsung heroes of the food world.”

Truffle hunting in Umbria counetd as Stone’s favorite travel moment of ’19.Sara Minelli

The Best Place He Traveled

 “Truffle hunting in Umbria last January for Field Trip is probably up there. It was also really special to take my team to South Australia this fall as we prepare for our next menu at Maude. It’s really cool to see Oz through their eyes.”

And the Best Hotel He Stayed In

“[My] family vacationed in Greece this summer and Mykonos Blu took really good care of us. We also loved the Bahama House Harbour Island property.”

Lastly, the Very Best Overall Dining Experience in 2019

“Any meal I had with my family. I’m on the road or at the restaurants a lot, so those meals stand out to me the most… making pancakes with [my kids] on Saturday morning, or having a simple dinner and great bottle of wine at home with [my wife] Lindsay.”