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Getting to Know Curtis Stone
I recently sat down with Curtis Stone to get to know a little more about this personable Aussie who not only serves as the chef for The Biggest Loser but who also stars in one of America's most popular reality/cooking shows, "Take Home Chef." Curtis, who trained in London under the legendary Marco Pierre White, is also author and presenter of the globally successful cooking/lifestyle program, "Surfing the Menu." His success in the U.S. has been phenomenal, with People magazine naming him one of the sexiest men alive.
You certainly look quite fit Curtis - have you ever had a weight problem?
I don't like to sit still for long at all, which has probably helped me along the way, and partly why I was drawn to the heat of a restaurant kitchen. The rush of service means that you're always on your toes and keeps a chef pretty active. These days, I have to make more of a concerted effort to include exercise as part of my routine, but I do try to do a little something on a regular basis, as I always feel so much better when I'm fit.
You've had classical culinary training and worked in some of the top restaurants in the world. What attracted your interest to healthier cooking?
I think my cooking these days is a lot more relaxed from when I was working in professional kitchens. Spending time in people's kitchens made me realize that people want to eat healthy meals that are easy to prepare, with minimal ingredients that can be made on a budget. Food should not only taste great but also be great for you!
You've been The Biggest Loser chef for a few years now. What have you learned from the contestants during the time you've spent cooking with them on the ranch?
Each season I find myself constantly inspired by The Biggest Loser contestants. Their tenacity and willingness to learn new, healthy habits is tremendous and the results speak for themselves. I am honored to be part of such an inspiring program that helps inspire positive change in so many lives.
Is there a particular contestant who really seemed to have a breakthrough when cooking with you?
Daniel from last season's The Biggest Loser: Couples was one of the heaviest contestants ever. We got to spend a little time together and he really embraced his time in the kitchen. He worked super hard to come back the following season. While he didn't win on the show, he worked extra hard to win his health!
You're always traveling, always cooking and always tasting food. What do you do to stay in shape? What's your favorite exercise routine?
These days I travel so much it's hard to get into a routine. When I'm on the road, I tend to use hotel gyms. When I'm home in L.A., I like to hike and hit the surf. All in all, I try to keep a balanced diet and exercise routine, which has stood me in good stead to date.
If you ever find yourself putting on a few extra pounds, what's the first thing you do to turn that around?
I try to do some form of exercise each day, whether it's going to the gym, doing a few laps in the pool or even a hike with some mates. I also like to start the day with a fresh fruit smoothie using whatever fruits are in season.
What are some of your most basic cooking or shopping recommendations for our viewers at home who love great food but need to watch their calories?
Use fresh vegetables and fruits that are locally grown. By doing this you cut down your chances of buying under-ripe produce that tastes bland. When your produce isn't fresh and ripe, the bland flavors will usually cause people to add high amounts of salt to their vegetables or high amounts of sugar or sweet accompaniments to their fruits. Also, it helps support local farmers.
Also, use your imagination in the kitchen - there are lots of recipes that you can vary a little to make them healthier. For example hamburgers are usually pretty bad for you, but you can easily make a healthier version by substituting turkey for beef and swapping out the bun to something healthier like a grilled Portobello mushroom or lettuce cups. Maybe change the pickles to fresh slices of cucumber marinated in vinegar to cut down on sodium. It's all about substituting the bad items in a dish with nutritious ones, while still keeping the same theme or feel to the dish.
Curtis Stone's Banana and Honey Smoothie
2 large, over-ripe bananas, peeled
1 cup fat free milk
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fat free yogurt
1 cup ice
Ground cinnamon, to taste
* Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
* Pour smoothie into 2 large glasses and serve immediately
* Garnish with extra cinnamon if desired
For more culinary tips and weight loss secrets, visit Cheryl's Blog.