Curtis Stone on Why Chefs Get More Sleep Than Parents

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Curtis Stone talks to omg!. (The Brooks Group)

Curtis Stone is used to the demands of being a professional chef, with the job’s endlessly long shifts on a daily basis, but it turns out another job has even more challenging hours: parenting an infant. It was a little discovery Stone made after he and his fiancée, actress Lindsay Price, welcomed son Hudson in November of 2011.

But what’s been most surprising about parenthood? “How people get through life with such little sleep and don’t complain about it,” Stone tells omg!. “As a chef, you feel invincible and like you work around the clock, but then you realize that the majority of the world actually got a lot less sleep than you, because their kids keep them up at night. Sleeping is not Hudson’s forte. It’s getting better, but it’s still not really his thing. So Dad gets up a couple of times most nights.”

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Being a dad has also created a little chaos in the kitchen, the inspiration for Stone’s upcoming cookbook What’s For Dinner?, out in April. As host of TV culinary competitions like “Top Chef Masters,” “Around the World in 80 Plates” and as a cooking-segment regular on the “Today” show, Stone has access to just about any high-end equipment and expensive ingredients he wants, but he knows that for families pressed for time – his included – that’s not always the case.

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Stone and fiancee Lindsay Price. (Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

“It’s a bit of a game plan that brings confidence to people’s kitchens and hopefully happiness to their dinner tables at the other end of that,” he explains of the book’s mission. “It’s OK to have just 15 minutes. It’s OK to have five ingredients. It’s OK just to have one pot to cook with. You can still pull together something that’s much simpler than you would find in a restaurant, but still delicious and nutritious and still serves that purpose supplying the family with a beautiful dinner.”

Part of the reason many Americans can be intimidated by cooking family meals, especially at the holidays, says Stone, is because they focus on creating something way too elaborate. “People tend to try and recreate this unbelievable meal that they ate in some fancy restaurant.  And what they don’t realize is that fancy restaurant had 15 chefs in the back and years of experience,” he explains. “And home cooking really should be really simple.”

When Stone and Price decide to trade family night for date night, sometimes the two choose to go out on the town (thanks to the fact that Price’s parents live nearby and generously offer their babysitting services often), but other evenings, it’s just about staying at home and decompressing.

“For me the perfect date night is a dish that you sort of cook, and if you just sit at the table and enjoy each other’s time,” the 37-year-old shares. “I used to think that the perfect date night would be lobsters and oysters and fancy food. But to be honest, I think it’s a bit more about being relaxed and being able to enjoy each other’s conversation and stuff.

Stone and Price are currently planning a destination wedding in Europe, where Stone plans to hand over the cooking reins to Steven Fretz, an executive chef who works for him. “Steven and I will work together on the menu, and I’m going to relinquish all power, let him do his thing, and I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it.”

Prior to that big milestone, the couple will be marking another one when they take 13-month-old Hudson on his first-ever trip to Stone’s native Australia. “We’re going home this time for the first time in a long time and let Hudson sort of be with his Aussie family for a change,” he shares. “My brother has a couple of boys, and my sister has a little girl, so I’m sure we’ll make some traditions because we all have newish families/ It’s going to be really exciting to be able to sort of get everyone into one room and watch the kids play and do their thing and just sort of see how it unravels.”

As for whether or not the couple will be bringing an even larger family back to Australia a few Christmases from now, well, it sounds like Stone already has his hands – or at least one hand – full.

“What I really want to do for the next book is one-armed cooking, because when you have a little one, you think, ‘How can I possibly do this with just one hand?’ And you walk around the kitchen with your baby boy in one arm and try and figure out how to take the lid off the jar of salt with just one hand and end up squashing it between your knees,” he laughs. “But your life does change dramatically, and I can’t even imagine having three or four.”

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