Take Five with... Curtis Stone: How to Make Any Meal Family-Friendly

By Erica Cupido

Cooking is an around-the-clock job for Curtis Stone. When the celebrity chef and restaurateur isn’t at work, he’s whipping up dishes for his wife, actress Lindsay Price and their sons Hudson, 3, and Emerson, 7 months. “ I do most of the cooking at home,” he tells Hello! Canada when we met up with him in the Chatelaine kitchen. “I do the bigger family meals. Linds does a lot of the kids’ cooking. My wife’s a good cook, I’m a lucky guy.”

Now he’s sharing the meals his family loves in a new cookbook, Good Food, Good Life. Between meeting with fans to sign copies of his sixth book and shooting appearances on The Shopping Channel (Curtis will be live in studio on April 17 and 18, see tsc.ca for details), Curtis took time out during a trip to Toronto to tell us some of his favourite ways to make any meal family-friendly.

Photo © Good Food, Good Life; published by Appetite by Random House

Becoming a parent has totally changed my approach to cooking. It’s made me a healthier eater because I’m worrying about my kids’ health as well as my own. Having said that, I think it’s important to open your kids up to different flavours. Of course you’re not going to give them something spicy when they’re really young, but it is important to help them develop their palettes and introduce them to new spices, vegetables and different ways of cooking.

If you have picky eaters and they won’t eat certain vegetables, I think the best thing to do is incorporate them into the meal. That might mean making a Bolognese sauce, a stew or a casserole. Rather than separating vegetables out as sides, make a pot pie and get it all in there together so the kids have no choice but to dig in. And juice! Juicing is the best way to get incredible nutrients into your kids. Of course, I make sure there’s the right amount of sweetness by including apples or pomegranates (it’s not just celery and beets). Hudson’s never once said no to his juice.

We eat with our eyes, so they say! You work with really tight timelines as a new dad, so trying to get recipes to work in a really timely fashion is important. I think presentation is a big part of cooking, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing. There’s something quite beautiful to me about a casserole that’s cooked and has gotten a little brown around the edges. I don’t think you should try to make your food look like it does when you go to a restaurant.

In every book I’ve ever written, I’ve put one of my mom’s recipes. Quite often there’s stuff from my grandmother included as well. I think nostalgia and tradition are important when it comes to food. There’s something special about a recipe being in a family for some time and to be able to tell a story with it. My grandmother was super-thrifty. She’d stretch every last cent out of every ingredient she had. It really stuck with me. My mom taught me all sorts of things as well. She loved to entertain. I’d see her get excited about hosting a dinner party and I still do the same thing myself. It’s funny, sometimes things are passed down without even thinking about it.

My son Hudson has loved helping out in the kitchen since day one. He really enjoys the process. He’s learned how to climb up the back of a stool and onto the kitchen countertop and I can’t seem to keep him off there. In fact, his mom would rather that he wasn’t up there because she thinks it’s a bit dangerous, but I keep a good eye on him. He likes measuring stuff out. Sometimes that means you’re getting a little more flour than you bargained for but that’s life.

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