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.

Here, I talk about 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 traveled 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 permanent move to the States. Thank Goodness for that, as I found and wooed my beautiful wife, Lindsay, here, and we have since had a son, Hudson. 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 think that it’s all of our responsibility to help where we can. If you have a voice use it.

I became involved with SecondBite through my partnership with Coles. This charity is all about the redirection of food to the people who need it most. If you stop and think about it, there is an incredible amount of waste that goes on in our world. We waste in the field, in the transportation of food and at the markets. If it gets to a household, you know we are all guilty of throwing things away out of our fridges. Then in the cooking process there’s waste and when you are actually serving the food there is more waste again. SecondBite identifies sources of nutritious surplus fresh food and produce that would otherwise go to waste and facilitates its safe and timely distribution to agencies and people in need.

This is an incredible charity in Queenscliff, Victoria, where they give kids their first ever break. As a kid, I used to spend summer holidays in Queenscliff. My mum lives in Geelong, not far from the cottage, and is heavily involved in the charity. I wanted to help out too. Kids who have come from a really challenged background, or are facing a difficult situation, are given a holiday in a caring and comforting environment and their parents have a respite.

Similar to SecondBite in its mission to fight hunger, is Feeding America. I got involved with them when I started with The Biggest Loser. In America, many of us worry about how we’re going to realize our dreams, in other parts of the world, and in parts of America, there’s people who worry about how they’re going to eat. For someone who loves food like I do, I think that we all need to do something to change this problem. The charity’s mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.