In his Guest DJ set, Chef and Top Chef Masters host Curtis Stone shares his surf soundtrack, an iconic Aussie band and some of the songs that get him going in the kitchen, including a recent EDM favorite. Curtis just opened a new restaurant called Maude in Beverly Hills.
For More: http://www.curtisstone.com/
Banner Image: Aaron Fallon Photography
1. Jack Johnson - Banana Pancakes
2. Live - Lightning Crashes
3. The Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK
4. INXS - Beautiful Girl
5. Martin Garrix - Animal
Eric J. Lawrence: Hi, I’m Eric J. Lawrence and I am here with Chef Curtis Stone. He has written a series of cookbooks, hosts the reality show Top Chef Masters on Bravo, and has just opened a new restaurant called Maude in Beverly Hills. But today he’s here to talk about some songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Curtis, thank you so much for joining us.
Curtis Stone: Thanks for having me.
EL: So, what’s the first track you got for us?
CS: This is a track by Jack Johnson, “Banana Pancakes”. I was really lucky enough to host a TV show in Australia called Surfing the Menu -- of course anything sounded better than a basement kitchen in London at that time -- and I said “oh yeah, absolutely, I’m in.” And then, of course, I had the show commissioned and they said, ‘so, tell us about how good a surfer you are?’ and I wasn’t a decent surfer, you know, I stood up on a board once or twice, but I was pretty pathetic. And then I started listening to a lot of surfing music and I went surfing every single day for a couple of weeks just to try and, you know, get my skill level up and Jack Johnson was at the top of my list all the time. So, I’ve got a special connection with Jack.
EL: Well here it is, Jack Johnson with “Banana Pancakes.”
Song: Jack Johnson – “Banana Pancakes”
EL: And did you pick this song cause it does have sort of a little food connection as well?
CS: For sure. Whenever I think about surfing I think about being in the water, you know, sitting on my board and looking at the sunrise or the sunset and then I think about, you know, standing up and the feeling of being pushed by a wave and THEN I think about what I’m gonna eat the second I get out of the water, because I’ve had so many nice food memories around surfing. You get so hungry out in the water and whether it’s a burrito down in Malibu after an early morning surf -- you know there’s this great little spot that I’ll never give out to anyone because I don’t want it to get to busy – or, you know, doing a picnic with your mates and taking down, you know, some beers or some pre-cut sandwiches and that sort of thing and eating them at the beach afterwards. I’ve got all sorts of great food memories around surfing.
EL: Well, that was Jack Johnson with Banana Pancakes selected by our guest Curtis Stone. What’s the next track you’ve got for us?
CS: So the next one is by Live, the track is “Lightning Crashes”. This is a song that’s sort of, it’s a little heavier. It’s not rock and roll necessarily, but to me it’s sort of a bit of an inspirational song. It actually reminds me of one of my first ever girlfriends. She was couple years older than me actually, which was very exciting for a 17 or 18-year-old kid to be dating someone two years older than him. You know, of course, she had slightly more advances tastes in music and all things.
We used to listen to this kind of music a lot together, but that was right when I had started my apprenticeship, so, you know, going from being a student where you don’t realize it at the time but you don’t have too many worries as a student to actually getting up each morning and going in and being the most junior guy in the kitchen, it can be a tough environment. So this song’s got really nice memories for me.
EL: Well here it is, Live with the track “Lightning Crashes”.
Song: Live – “Lightning Crashes”
EL: That was Live with “Lightning Crashes” from their 1994 album Throwing Copper as selected by our guest Curtis Stone. So what’s the next track you’ve got for us?
CS: The next track is a really special one to me. This song is by the Sex Pistols and it’s “Anarchy in the UK.” When I first moved to the UK -- I went and worked there for 8 years -- and I thought I was working hard back in Melbourne, but I soon realized that going to work for guy named Marco Pierre White in the UK was going to be a whole different sort of situation.
And there was still a bit of a punk thing going on in the UK around that time and, especially in kitchens at that level, there was a little bit of a punk feel. I can remember listening to this whole album actually and, you know, just sort of being in a different part of the world and surrounded by different people and cooking different food with a very European attitude. It was a very special time in my life.
EL: Is there a lot of music that goes on in kitchens as the food is being prepared?
CS: You know what, I’ve always sort of been of the opinion that if you’re about to have a busy service and you need to get up and get ready, it’s almost a bit like going to the gym, you know, you do turn some music on and it does sort of get the pace of the kitchen set.
In the pastry kitchen, we always used to play classical music. Because you know, in there it’s all about finesse and it’s all about being a little bit more refined and being a little bit more delicate. So, it depends on what you’re cooking I think.
EL: Well, here’s a punk rock classic to rev you up. It’s the Sex Pistols with "Anarchy in the UK."
Song: Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the UK”
EL: That was the Sex Pistols with “Anarchy in the UK” as selected by our guest chef Curtis Stone. What’s the next track you’ve got for us?
CS: The next one’s an old Aussie track and I guess, doing so much traveling, there’s those certain songs that remind me of home and remind me of sitting around a kitchen table with my mum and my family and what not. So this is INXS, there’s not many more iconic Aussie bands than them. And this song’s “Beautiful Girl,” which is one of my favorites.
Song: INXS – “Beautiful Girl”
CS: I think the attitude of Australian music is really interesting. We still have a lot of indie bands playing in pubs on the weekend. It’s probably, I guess, how I imagined the music was in the States 30-40 years ago, you know, it’s become a little more commercial, and I love that about Australian music. It’s quite individual, you know, it’s probably equally influenced by the UK and the United States, so there’s a bit of an interesting mix going on in the music and I like it.
EL: And INXS, what do they mean to Australians specifically?
CS: Look, I mean, Michael Hutchence was one of our sort of homegrown heroes of course and to lose him in such a tragic way was a horrible thing at the time, you know, but then you listen back to their music, and you think of music that’s still really current, even though it was recorded 15 or 20 years ago. It’s those bands that just have that genius about them that you just wish there was more of. The music business has gone through a really big change. It’s really interesting to see how it ebbs and flows and I think it’s probably back in a better place now than it has in the past, but INXS was sort of one of the last of those old school bands that were just rockin’. Loved them.
EL: Well here’s INXS with "Beautiful Girl."
EL: What do you think about people that suggest that food is the new rock?
CS: It’s interesting, we’re just sort of making correlations to the music business and I’m thinking about the food industry. What I’m doing right now is going back to cooking in a 25 seater restaurant, just in this tiny little place and a lot of people think I’m out of my mind.
As one of my mates said to me, that’s the first honest day’s work you’ve done in a while. And it’s actually true, you know, I haven’t been behind a stove in a restaurant for seven years and for the last month and a half I’ve done nothing but that, driving home at 1:00 in the morning and getting back up at 7:30 in the morning to get back into that kitchen. There’s something I absolutely love about it and I don’t know that I can ever give it up.
Truthfully, the joy I get is in that small little restaurant, which is interesting what happened with the music business because artists stopped touring because they didn’t have to, right? And, unfortunately, musicians should play, you know, that’s what they should do. They should perform, and I think the same thing about chefs. It’s such a waste to have these talented, brilliant chefs out there that are just on television or just writing books and they’re not cooking, you can’t go and eat their food. And, I hope I start a bit of a trend and get these celebrity chefs back behind the stove.
EL: Well, what’s the last track you got for us?
CS: Alright, so this is a bit of a new one for me. I’m talking about my age, I feel like the old man at the kitchen because I’ve got this incredible team of cooks around me, they’re all 25 or 27 years old, 22 years old, and they’ve got so much energy. I didn’t realize that I had gotten old but I am the old man on the stove now. So I thought I’d turn to some new sort of music to get me amped up and get me going, so, this is by Martin Garrix, it’s “Animal.” You’ve probably heard it once or twice already on the radio. It is full of energy, it’s got a real nice beat to it, so, this is the new Curtis talking, with this music.
EL: Well, here it is, Martin Garrix with "Animal."
Song: Martin Garrix – “Animal”
EL: Do you find that a lot of these younger guys are listening to some of this electronic music in the kitchen?
CS: They are. Look, sort of everyone’s got their own taste in music. I like to think about music, I have a really eclectic library of stuff, but I also really do enjoy this energetic stuff by people like Martin Garrix. And music is such a beautiful thing it should cross so many genres, you shouldn’t just pick one thing that you like and stick to that.
EL: Well Curtis I want to thank you so much for joining us here at KCRW.com
CS: Thank you very much. What a pleasure.