Award-winning chef Curtis Stone talks to Alexander Joo about pristine beaches, foodie heaven and more reasons why Canadians should chase the sun Down Under
“You can get from the city to the beach, country, ski fields and mountains all within a day. It’s incredible,” says Curtis Stone, award-winning chef, best-selling author and television host, when describing his home country of Australia. Although it isn’t the usual destination that Canadian snowbirds look to when escaping winter, with 30°C sunshine, similar cost of living, and direct flights from Vancouver to Sydney, Brisbane and, starting mid2018, Melbourne, it should be on our radar.
Get Tan “Whether you like a bush beach, tropical beach or a surf beach – there’s something for everyone,” says Stone. He’s not exaggerating – Australia has nearly 26,000 kilometres of coastline dotted with a whopping 10,685 beaches, each with a different vibe, from the high-energy crowds at Bondi Beach to the laid-back surf culture of the Gold
Coast to the contender of the best beach in the world title, Whitehaven Beach, where the sand’s so pure – 98% silica – that its origins have scientists baffled.
Absolute seclusion is a short drive away. “The beaches are huge and mostly untouched once you’re out of the cities,” advises Stone. “You can find beaches that go for miles with not another soul on them.”
Get Wet The legendary Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction, although it’s worth repeating that it’s the world’s largest coral reef system comprised of 2,900 reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres. This Wonder Of The World also has, Stone adds, “Idyllic islands, marine life, year round sunshine and the best produce, particularly fruit and seafood. The tagline for Queensland is Beautiful one day, perfect the next and it’s true.”
Curtis, living up to the carefree nature that his boyish face and tousled, sun-bleached hair suggests, also recommends getting your heart pumping with adrenaline-fuelled activities such as surfing at Bondi Beach, swimming with great white sharks in South Australia and kite surfing at Port Douglas. “So much of our leisure activity takes place on, in, or by the water.”
Get Stuffed Curtis began his craft in Melbourne, made his name in London and then shot into international stardom in Los Angeles. But Australia remains one of his favourite countries to eat his way through. The top-notch growing conditions, fishing and eager, ambitious students contribute to the burgeoning foodie scene. “Our good weather helps, along with the fact that Aussies are generally pretty excited about food – more and more so these days, which is great,” he explains.
Australia now hosts several highly acclaimed food festivals which reveals the enthusiasm, sophistication and quality of the food scene on this far-flung island. “Australia’s access to fresh produce and seafood is unparalleled and we have so much young culinary talent rising up through the ranks,” says Stone. He especially holds his hometown,
Melbourne, close to his heart. “Melbourne has the best laneway/hidden/outof-the-way kooky late night kitchens and sexy wine bars that you can wander and discover. It’s one of the foodie capitals of th the world.”
When asked what his three fa favourite dishes in Australia are right now, Stone replies: “Western Australian Marron T Tail with Oyster Mushrooms fr from Vue de Monde; Sanshos roasted duck breast from SepiaS – the 9 course tasting menu is a must!; and Oeufs en Gelee from Hubert.” ButB when asked what his goto bitebi in LA is, he answers with a grin, “Tacos! And a cold beer.”
Both Australia and Canada have their share of out-dated stereotypes. While we’re a nation of hockey-playing moose and beavers situated in the uninhabitable north, Curtis says, “We don’t have kangaroos jumping down our Main Street! But most of all, we’re not too far away. The journey is well worth it.” We can’t wait to find out.
Western Australian Marron Tail from Vue de Monde Hosier Lane in Melbourne
Curtis Stone is a chef, restaurateur, author, media personality and businessman. Recently named Eater’s “Los Angeles Chef of the Year,” Curtis currently oversees his restaurants, Maude and Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant in Los Angeles; hosts Moveable Feast
with Fine Cooking on PBS, and Top Chef Junior on the Universal Kids Network; helps low-income people find jobs through the nonprofit charity, Chrysalis; and serves as CEO of Stone’s Food Inc., his culinary-focused consulting, content and partnership company.
The Gold Coast