As Aussie celebrity chef Curtis Stone stays in his adopted home of Los Angeles during the pandemic, he’s dreaming of returning to Australia’s nature-focused regions.
“The most beautiful thing about that country is there is just so much to see,” the Melbourne native says. “People say, ‘How long do I need? Can I do it in a month? Can I do it in a week?’ And I say that you can’t do it in 20 trips of a month each. There’s just so much.”
Partnering with Tourism Australia, he recently offered a virtual cooking class inspired by the Australian locations featured in the second season of Field Trip with Curtis Stone. During each episode of the Peacock show, Stone visits culinary destinations that influenced the menu at his Beverly Hills restaurant Maude (which in February pivoted to house The Pie Room by Gwen, a casual pop-up that serves sweet and savory pies, puddings and tarts). As he whipped up dishes like beef shin, stout and onion pie as well as numus (a pickled fish) with greens and avocado (try your hand at the recipes here) on Zoom, the friendly, enthusiastic chef shared his Australia bucket list.
“My last trip I was in the Kimberley up in the Western Australia area, and it’s just the most remote, beautiful part of the world,” says Stone, who also helms Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant in L.A. and Georgie in Dallas. “You go up there and you’re like, ‘I can’t not come back here in my lifetime, now that I’ve seen it.’”
The Kimberley is one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. Three times larger than England, the region encompasses canyons, freshwater swimming holes and a rugged coastline peppered with 2,600 islands. And it’s home to birds, whales, dolphins and saltwater crocodiles.
He also wants to revisit Birdsville, an outback town on the edge of Queensland’s Simpson Desert that’s known for its striking red-sand dunes and an annual horse race event. When he was 16, Stone hopped on a small plane with his dad, brother and a family friend who was a pilot to attend the races.
“The only way to get there is by small plane, really,” he says. “You can fly for days and days and you don’t see anything — you don’t see any buildings. It’s really quite funny. But then thousands of people arrive each year to the Birdsville Races.”
“We went to a bunch of little outback towns, but there are so many more and I just love that part of the world,” he says about his Birdsville trip. “You go to the outback and bump into someone and they say, ‘How are you?’ And you say, ‘Good, thanks, how are you?’ And they say, ‘Good thanks.’ Thirty minutes later you’re still standing there talking to a complete stranger, and you think to yourself, ‘That’s how it’s meant to be.’ I would certainly hit a bunch of the remote places in the middle of the country.”
Another destination on Stone’s bucket list is secluded Kangaroo Island, which sits eight miles off the coast of South Australia. The 1,705-square-mile island teems with wildlife, including sea lions, koalas, echidnas, wallabies, goannas and, of course, its namesake kangaroos. “I’ve never been to Kangaroo Island,” he says. “I know how beautiful it is, and I really want to get there as well.”