About Curtis

My inspiration

- She had me at the fudge!

“Whether it was making marmalade with my nan and grandad or fudge with my granny, I look back now and think it was a little odd for a 5-year old to be so obsessed with food.” 

My mum and granny taught me everything I know about food and cooking. My mum, Lozza, is a great cook, in particular a phenomenal baker, and I would watch her every move while she baked. I am very partial to her corn and bacon muffins so she makes these for me whenever I visit. I still call on her regularly for advice when I’m developing recipes – thanks Lozza! 

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.

It was also around this ripe age of 4 that I tried my hand at cooking. I love to eat. I've always been a greedy little monster who can't get enough food. Learning how to cook was sort of an extension of always wanting to eat. My best mate's dad was a chef. 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 they all wore suits. I wanted what he had… 

Budding Chef To Head Chef

"I decided I was going to work for legendary chef Marco Pierre White—no matter what it took.”

Once it was time to do some work experience I got my first taste of how a professional kitchen worked. It was complete madness: extreme heat, long hours, sharp objects, crazy people, blood, sweat and tears. It had my name all over it; I bloody loved it! I did my apprenticeship at the Savoy Hotel in Melbourne and got my feet wet in the industry.

The time came to fly the coop in search of new challenges. I headed to London chasing a dream to work for Marco Pierre White – Britain’s most celebrated chef. His cookbook White Heat was the first I’d ever read. He had this huge reputation for being crazy, working ridiculous hours, and I knew I’d thrive working for him. I offered to work for free just to learn from the absolute pinnacle of chefs! This pivotal decision to seek out Marco paid off. I started working at the Grill Room (Café Royal) on the very same day I met him. This was a place where if you didn’t get fired that day, then you did a good job.

After 12 months, Marco opened a restaurant named Mirabelle. I was made Chef de Partie for 6 months then promoted to Sous Chef there the year we won our first Michelin star. 1 year later, Marco appointed me Head Chef of another of his restaurants in London, Quo Vadis. Here, I was able to explore and incorporate more Italian influences in the food. The following year we were one of the only four Italian restaurants to receive three rosette awards. 

My Cooking Philosophy

My cooking philosophy is to keep it simple and cook with naturally produced ingredients just as Mother Nature intended.

My philosophy really evolved while coming up the ranks in Marco’s restaurants. We worked only with the best local and seasonal ingredients and treated them simply. Filming Surfing the Menu cemented my philosophy even further as it enabled me to personally meet farmers and manufacturers, and visit orchards, vineyards, paddocks, fish farms, even an apiary, and much more, to truly see where food originally comes from.

When Mother Nature worked out what we should be eating at different times of the year, she did a pretty good job, so listen to her. Food that is in season just tastes better and you really don’t have to do a whole lot to it to make it taste great! It is always less expensive, and chances are it hasn’t been artificially treated or travelled halfway across the world to reach your kitchen.

My Blog

I may be stating the obvious here but I’ll say it anyway - my life wholly and completely revolves around cooking, creating and celebrating food. Whatever the occasion, you can bet your bottom dollar that food is the common denominator!

www.cookcreatecelebrate.com honours my food life from sourcing and growing my own food to presenting it beautifully on a plate. Each post shares my experiences cooking, creating or celebrating food.

Tried & true and contemporary cooking tips and techniques. 

I share my knowledge of brilliant, fresh produce and how to turn it into delicious dishes.

Sharing food is one of my biggest pleasures. I offer my personal stories and I’m keen to hear yours too!

www.cookcreatecelebrate.com

Spreading The Word

You're most comfortable when you're talking about something you love and are passionate about which, for me, of course, is food.

I was at Quo Vadis when I was first approached by a publisher who phoned to say they were publishing a book about London’s finest chefs. To my amazement they wanted to include me in it. I nearly fell over because to be included in the company of people I had always admired was surreal and incredibly humbling. Following this, I got a call from an agent, did a little bit of morning television work in the UK, and my whole world started to turn around and change.

I was lucky enough to be asked to co-host a show called Surfing the Menu with my mate, Ben O’Donohue - aka Bender. In the show we travelled around Australia and met loads of passionate food producers and cooked their produce. It was the best job in the world - being paid to travel and cook my way around a country that I love.

Surfing the Menu caught the eye of US producers, which led to the Take Home Chef gig, and subsequently, a move across the pond to the States. Thank Goodness for that, as I found and wooed my beautiful wife, Lindsay, here, and we have since had two sons, Hudson and Emerson. I learnt an incredible amount about America’s produce and home cooks while working on this series.

Since wrapping Take Home Chef, I have been fortunate enough to continue sharing my knowledge and philosophy on a handful of shows, including Top Chef Masters, The Today Show, America’s Next Great Restaurant, The Biggest Loser, Around the World in 80 Plates, MasterChef, and I’m pretty stoked to have also hung out with and chatted on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, amongst many others. 

My Cookware Range - Kitchen Solutions

My toys bring confidence to the kitchen and happiness to the table.

My combined knowledge and experience from a life spent in domestic and professional kitchens led me to create a range of kitchenware designed specifically for home cooks. As a chef, I’ve always had the luxury of working in professional kitchens, where I have everything at my fingertips – huge cutting boards, razor sharp knives, mise en place containers, large garbage bins at every station, the list goes on and on. I’ve also worked in hundreds of domestic kitchens and I know first-hand the issues that home cooks go up against - anything from blunt knives and unstable chopping boards to limited space. My products create order in the kitchen to save you time while looking pretty, bloody beautiful while they’re at it. You’ll be so proud of the dishes you’ll effortlessly whip up! Bon Appetit!

 

Giving Back

I am excited to announce that our 2017 #Commit2One partner is Chrysalis!

Each year, my team and I pledge to #Commit2One main cause and nonprofit organization that is championing that cause. Giving back has always been a very important part of our lives and there are so many causes that deserve support, but we found that we could participate in giving back in a deeper way by assessing the time and resources we could offer each year, and focusing them in one area. It also allows us to spread the love and give different causes and organizations the support that they need over time.

We started the #Commit2One pledge in 2016 with the National Young Farmers Coalition (www.YoungFarmers.org): an organization that works to remove barriers that young farmers face in entering the field, including: student loan debt, land access, and navigating water access and conservation hurdles. We met with farmers and we helped to spread the word that the average age of farmers in the US is 63, and only 6% of farmers in the US are under the age of 35, which means we will lose a good portion of our farmers in the coming decade. We hosted a series of guest-chef fundraiser dinners with some of the best chefs in the country, including: Mike Lata, Wylie Dufresne, Dominique Crenn, and Michael Anthony - all of whom share our deep concern and passion for our future farmers.
 

This year, we are so excited to announce that we are supporting the Chrysalis organization, which is very dear to us. Chrysalis is a Los Angeles area nonprofit organization dedicated to helping economically disadvantaged and homeless individuals become self-sufficient through jobs. After learning about their program, we hired one of their members in 2014 to work at Maude Restaurant. He has stayed with us over the last three years and now manages seven other employees who have come to us through their program. Many disadvantaged and homeless individuals need the right support to get to self-sufficiency and Chrysalis works with each of their clients, individually, to piece together the right combination of services specifically for them, including: education, training, work experience, one-on-one mentoring, and a wide range of resources.

 

 

Since they were founded in 1984, they have helped 55,000 men and women get back to self-sufficiency. Homelessness is a national and international crisis and Chrysalis is recognized as a leader in workforce development. Chrysalis believes:

  • Every client has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their past

  • A steady job is the key to self sufficiency

  • By focusing on unemployment, we address unmet needs of an underserved population

  • The benefits of getting and keeping a job are about more than just income and survival - they serve as a catalyst for self-sufficiency, housing stability, increases in self-esteem and dignity, and better physical and mental health.

 

We will continue to update this page with news on our work with Chrysalis, as well as ways to get involved for those who are interested. For more information on volunteering, donations, hiring Chrysalis clients, or supporting businesses that hire Chrysalis clients, please visit www.ChangeLives.org.

 

Never underestimate the power of having a sense of purpose and the tools and skills it takes to achieve your goals.
#ChangeLives @Chrysalis LA 
For those of you who are inspired to take the #Commit2One pledge, please tag your work and share it with the world!