Stars turn to Stone
Oprah, Ellen and Donald are queuing for a chat with Aussie chef Curtis, writes Erin McWhirter
COprah’s Sandwich Showdown Channel 10, Friday, 1pm Cooking special Duration: 1 hour Surfing The Menu Lifestyle Food, Saturday, 3pm Cooking road trip Duration: 30 minutes URTIS Stone had been enjoying a dream run in Hollywood until he joined A-listers Mischa Barton, Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jnr in climbing behind the wheel after drinking too much.
Stone pleaded guilty to drinkdriving in California, was fined $350 and given a three-year probation licence.
He has since apologised, saying he’d learned a big lesson.
‘‘Drink-driving is a very serious thing and I’ve always respected it,’’ Stone said.
‘‘It’s not worth thinking, ‘Am I close to the limit?’ You should just think, ‘I’m not going to drink when I’m driving my car’.’’
The May 30 run-in with the law, however, hasn’t slowed Stone’s career. The Surfing the Menu and My Restaurant Rules host has followed in the footsteps of Jamie Durie and wooed talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey, appearing on her Sandwich Showdown TV special.
Stone’s mission to crack the US market began two years ago, after making his US hosting debut with pay-TV series Take Home Chef.
Take Home Chef is similar to Surprise Chef, which involved chef Aristos Papandroulakis approaching women in supermarkets and cooking a meal using ingredients in their trolley.
‘‘It never gets easier to just walk up to someone completely random and strike up a conversation,’’ Stone says. ‘‘Quite often they get paranoid with the cameras, so it’s hard.’’
With Stone appealing to the ladies of America, Winfrey has signed him for more segments. That has led to the food whiz securing his own slot on America’s highest-rating breakfast program, the Today Show.
‘‘About seven or eight million viewers per morning watch,’’ Stone says of the Today Show.
‘‘For a little Aussie boy you hear those figures and think, ‘Man, that’s half my country back home’. It’s very exciting, but with the Aussie accent you can just about do anything.’’
Stone has interested Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres and been asked to participate in Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice and reality dating series The Bachelor.
‘‘I have been asked to do shows and endorse some horrible products that you would never ever go near,’’ Stone says.
‘‘When they asked me to do Celebrity Apprentice I really considered it because I love the show and fancy myself as a bit of a wannabe businessman. Then with The Bachelor I said I would do it if they didn’t bring the cameras on set,’’ he says. ‘‘Because the notion of having 15 women fall in love with you was pretty fantastic but also pretty cheesy.’’
Things haven’t always been smooth sailing. Stone vividly remembers moving to America alone and with no one to call.
‘‘When I first got here and you get given the keys to your little apartment and the new keys to your car and mobile phone, you just look at the phone and there isn’t a single number in it to call,’’ Stone says.
‘‘You don’t have a friend in the country. It’s a gradual thing and I remember just coming down to Hollywood and looking around for celebrities, wondering what all the hype is about.
‘‘Then things happen slowly and every now and then you stand back and think ‘S---, look at this’. It’s pretty amazing.’’ Stone says Winfrey is inspiring. ‘‘You arrive at her studio and there are photos of her with Nelson Mandela and these incredible world figures and friends of hers who have been monumental in shaping the world,’’ Stone says.
‘‘She is so powerful and done so much, then you meet her and she is so chilled, really funny, quick-witted and all those things that would bring success in TV.’’
Curtis Stone is in demand in the US despite his recent run-in with the law.