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HSN Cooks! and our guest-celebrity, Curtis Stone

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We love Chef Curtis Stone. His personality is always a kick and he’s rather good looking—but we’re getting carried away from the story here…

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HSN Cooks! is a new section that we are having the most fun with because we are featuring top chef/television personalities along with highlighting their new cookware and foodstuffs. We are having so much fun and can’t wait to tell you about some products we’ve never featured before (hello, pizza maker) and how some kitchen tools have fared under our sometimes klutzy hands (if we can do it...)

As an added bonus we have interviews with: Donatella, Ming Tsai, Lorena Garcia, and our guest today of course, is Curtis Stone. Here is our interview with him:

Q.: Did your mother/grandmother teach you recipes or influence your cooking?

Curtis: Yes for sure, they both did! I was 4 years old, just a little tucker, when I had my first, truly memorable food experience. I tried my granny’s Yorkshire fudge and it was one of the first really sweet things that I’d tasted. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Whenever I went to granny’s place, from that first taste forward, we’d get busy in the kitchen and make fudge together. It was our thing.

Of course, my mum, Lozza, is a great cook too, in particular a phenomenal baker, and I would watch her every move while she baked. Our kitchen was just a modest kitchen but what I remember most is the delicious and comforting smell and warmth generated from there. I think just about everyone loves walking into a home full of just-baked cakes, muffins, slices, breads…

Q.: What is your favorite piece of kitchen equipment and why?

Curtis: I’m pretty proud of my Go with the Flow Oil Can because it gives you the perfect pour every time. There is nothing more important than pouring the right amount of oil into a hot pan, a dressing or even over your favorite salad. So I've designed this stunning stainless steel oil can that features an elongated spout to help control the pour each time all the while looking pretty sexy on any dining table or kitchen bench.

Q.: What is the one tool you cannot live without?

Curtis: A sharp knife. Every chef and home cook needs a few sharpest of the sharp knives to work with. A few great quality pieces in the kitchen really go a long way; same goes for a tidy and organized space! If you nail both of those things then you’re half way there!

Q.: Do you use a lot of herbs or spices?

Curtis: Absolutely! They both provide so much flavor and depth to a dish. I grow a bunch of different types of herbs in my veggie garden and I like being able to tell people that the lunch I'm serving started out as a seed in my yard. I have created a product called the Bump & Grind: it's a modern-day mortar and pestle. The original kind are too big and become a pain; the modern products have to fit into your kitchen. So it's shaped more like a bathtub and the spices stay in the vessel. I make spice mixes for curries; homemade pestos with fresh basil picked from the garden; crush garlic and rosemary and rub it over lamb and steak. It's a really primitive way of cooking that adds great flavor.

Q.: How should a prep area be set up?

Curtis: Chefs call it mise en place, which sounds fancy, but just means everything in place. Before you start cooking, prep all your ingredients and place each in a separate bowl. Pull out anything you'll need from the fridge or cupboard and then start cooking. With all your ingredients in one place, the cooking time flies.

Q.: Did you always aspire to become a chef?

Curtis: Yes, I guess I did. Earlier I told you about my first experiences tasting my granny’s fudge and baking with mom but my first personal experience with a real chef, my best mate’s dad, also left a lasting impression on me. He sort of lived this rock star lifestyle: He’d come in late from work and he had long hair and tattoos and he didn’t conform to my dad’s social circle where the all wore suits, and I wanted in! After school I did enroll into university to study business but pretty quickly knew that it wasn’t for me and shot outta there. I started my apprenticeship at The Savoy Hotel in Melbourne and the rest is history really. I’m still in the industry and can’t imagine doing anything else…

Q.: What is your favorite meal?

Curtis: I can’t pin it down to one meal, that’s really too hard. I’m such a greedy-guts and love so many cuisines. Right now my go-to comfort food is tacos. I love my late-night trips to a hole in the wall taco stand in East L.A. I eat them really, really hot—the hotter, the better.

Q.: How can cooks at home save more time, yet eat healthy?

Curtis: I’m a huge believer in the idea that when you start the week off right, you’re more likely to end it better as well. So I think it is key to get organized on a Sunday, or pick a day that best suits your schedule, and get sorted on that day. Write a meal plan and shopping list, and if you know you’ve got a really busy week on the cards, make a couple of meals ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. Another tip is to make extra! One of the best ways to save time in the kitchen is to turn leftovers into a quick meal. Just think: roasted vegetables can become an amazing soup, vegetable gratins transform effortlessly into a frittata and pot roast makes the most delicious open-faced sandwiches. It does take time and effort to organize a meal plan and bring it to life but a home-cooked meal is always worth the effort. Food simply tastes better – and is better for you – when you cook it yourself.

Q.: What is on the horizon for Curtis Stone?

Curtis: I just opened my dream little restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills a couple of months ago so I’m busy working there on the line as much as I possibly can. We offer a monthly, prix fixe menu, which is a challenging concept, right? Just as we've totally mastered the month's menu, we go ahead and begin the process all over again - brainstorming ideas, farm visits, testing and finalizing dishes all in time for the 1st day of the month. But I'm absolutely loving it... I’m also in the throes of writing my 6th cookbook, which is super exciting and I’m working hand in hand with my product team to expand my cookware range. I’m looking forward to showing off the latest and greatest products at the next HSN Cooks event.

Q.: What is the one chef skill most valuable to you?

Curtis: I really value a hard working and resilient chef in the kitchen. You know, it’s the only way to keep your head above water and succeed in our industry. I don’t necessarily think people are born with an amazing talent instead it’s often really a mix of passion, dedication and hard work that equals success. When you're working in a restaurant, you learn the art of perfection. You do the same thing day after day, you refine it, and become very good at certain jobs then you continue to build on your skills. When I started out in kitchens in Melbourne, I peeled and cut potatoes everyday and I more or less perfected the art of peeling and chopping at lightning speed then I moved onto learn more complicated techniques.

Be sure to see the slideshow and how we cored and sliced a pineapple using Curtis Stone's Everyday Pineapple Cutter

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