People 2 minutes 10 January 2020

Chef Spotlight: Curtis Stone

The 45-year-old is here to change the world, one charity at a time.

Chefs and the Community

At only 45 years old, Curtis Stone has lived a life. Having grown up in Melbourne, Australia, Stone recalls his first vivid food memory as trying to make his grandmother Maude’s Yorkshire fudge. “I don’t think I’d had many sweet things before that point, and I couldn’t get enough,” he says.

That fudge sealed the deal for him, forging his culinary path where he would cook at the Savoy Hotel’s world-renowned restaurant at the age of 18 before moving to Europe at 21 to train under Marco Pierre White at The Grill Room at Café Royal, proclaiming he was a proverbial fish out of water. “Everyone was so highly skilled, speaking French and working with ingredients that were slightly different from what I was accustomed to in Australia,” he says. Between the fast-paced environment and White’s intensity, Stone eventually ended up working at Café Royal, Mirabelle and Quo Vadis for a solid eight years.

It was in London, too, where Stone fell under the spell of television, first appearing on a local morning segment, “London On a Plate.” “I don’t think I was particularly great at the time, but it led to other TV appearances and, subsequently, the opportunity to do a show in Australia that allowed me to cook, travel and surf,” he says.

Then Stone came stateside to shoot the pilot for Take Home Chef—“And, to be honest, [I] also wanted to spend my birthday in Vegas!” As it were, the show became a hit. He then met his future wife, actress Lindsay Price, and decided to plant roots in the City of Angels. (You’ve also probably seen him on Top Chef Masters, and his latest, Field Trip with Curtis Stone, which aired last fall.)

He has authored six cookbooks and has partnered with Princess Cruises in creating a six-course menu for their vessels. He’s a father to two boys. He’s also chef and restaurateur of MICHELIN-rated Maude and Gwen in Los Angeles, which he co-owns with his brother, Luke.

Curtis Stone surfing in Gas Bay, Western Australia. (Photo by Paul Donegan.)
Curtis Stone surfing in Gas Bay, Western Australia. (Photo by Paul Donegan.)

And when it comes to the broader community, Stone is firmly dedicated to giving back, starting his #Commit2One initiative, where he and his team devote their attention to a single charity, raising awareness and funds to support the mission, every year. “It’s really been an incredible experience to develop close relationships with these non-profits that are personally inspiring to me—that’s always where it starts,” he says.

It started with the National Young Farmers Coalition, an organization that supports independent family farms, sustainable farming practices, affordable land for farmers and fair labor practices to ensure the future of agriculture. He’s worked with Chrysalis, an organization dedicated to helping economically disadvantaged and homeless populations via jobs. (One of their clients was even hired to work at his one-MICHELIN-starred Maude.) In 2018, Stone’s focus was AdoptTogether, helping families through the world’s first and largest crowdfunding source for adoption expenses. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign was last year’s charity of choice.

Stone is quick to admit that in the grand scheme of things, giving back can be paralyzing when looking at it as a whole. “I think it’s hard to know how to give back in the modern landscape, because there is so much out there,” he says. “This is part of what inspired #Commit2One to really narrow my focus, and I think that mentality might be helpful for others, as well. Find a charity that really resonates with you and go from there.”

This year, given recent events, Stone is looking to help his native country. “It’s been gut-wrenching to see so much devastation to the land, animals and wildlife of my home country with the recent fires in Australia,” he says. “There’s a sense of complete powerlessness when something like this happens, which is why I’ll be partnering with Drought Angels for my #Commit2One charity this year. It’s an incredible, female-founded Australian non-profit that provides direct financial support, resources and relief for Australia’s agricultural producers impacted by drought and natural disasters such as these fires. I’ll be donating 100% of the profits from our South Australia menu at Maude this winter."

“I think about changing the world more from the perspective of the impact I can have on one person because that’s where it all begins, right?” he continues. “You change one person’s life and that has a ripple effect.” Stone says his work with Chrysalis had a very dramatic ripple effect on a personal level. “We hired some great, passionate people through Chrysalis and their stories and journeys really floored me. It was very cool to contribute to their next narrative and help them unlock the chains from their past.”

Stone has it all—and he does it all—but admits that he has his limits. “I don’t want to do anything halfway, so while I’m open to exploring new opportunities that push me as a chef and entrepreneur, I’m conscious about my commitments,” he admits. “That’s time away from my restaurants and my family, so I always consider whether it is something that is enriching to me or adding value to the broader community.”

Hero image by Clay Larsen.


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