You may recognize Curtis Stone from his various TV gigs—from hosting the TLC series Take Home Chef to appearances on Top Chef Masters, The Today Show, and America's Next Great Restaurant. These days, the Australian chef can be found in his adopted home of Los Angeles, running the kitchens at his duo of world-class restaurants: Maude, named for his paternal grandmother, serves rotating menus that highlight a different ingredient each month (September is grapes). The brand-new Gwen, meanwhile, honors his maternal grandma and focuses on fire-based cooking and meat-centric dishes. (After dining there a few weeks ago, I can safely say this is one to watch—and perfect for a romantic date night. Reserve the chef's counter for optimal views.) A few days before jetting off to New York to cook at the James Beard House, Stone took some time out to share his travel tips.
Aisle or window?
Aisle. I'm pretty tall and need to get up and stretch the old legs during the flight.
Check or carry-on?
Carry-on whenever possible. I always arrive at the counter just as they are about to close the gate and then I'm usually rushing to get to a work commitment upon landing, so the quicker I can check in and make my flight, the better.
What electronics or gadgets do you always pack and why?
I rely heavily on my iPhone rather than lugging around a laptop. I bring a regular charger and a portable charger so I can charge on the go. My lifeline is definitely the portable iPhone charger.
Favorite foodie souvenir from your travels:
When I go back to Australia, I have an old-faithful driver named Tommy who always sends me home with a bottle of chili oil made by his wife. It's just so hot and absolutely blows your mind. Anything homemade with a little love (and a little spice!) gets a big tick from me.
What is the most romantic destination you've visited?
Majorca, Spain. I got married on this beautiful island in 2013. As our friends and family traveled from near and far to be with us for this special day, we turned the wedding into a three-day party so that we could spend quality time with everyone.
Most romantic hotel?
During our honeymoon, we stayed at Carmo's Boutique Hotel in Ponte de Lima. It's located in the oldest town in Portugal and it's just a romantic and beautiful property. The mother and daughter who own it took us around Porto and Ponte de Lima for a day and they cooked us incredible food. It was just a wonderful, memorable experience.
Most romantic meal?
Honestly, a night at home cooking for Linds is always the most romantic night for us. It is so special to understand what the other person loves to eat and then go to the effort of getting the ingredients and cooking the dish perfectly for them. We are lucky with the weather in Los Angeles, so we can often eat under the stars.
Restaurant with the most amazing view?
Quay, in Sydney, Australia. It's located on the picturesque Circular Quay harbor, with views of the Opera House. Chef Peter Gilmore is at the helm and is at the top of his game. His restaurant is one I could go back to time and time again for the view and delicious food.
Meal you could eat again and again?
Anything with white truffles. They totally move you. I have an instinctual attraction to them. From the very first time I smelled them, I was like, "Oh my god, what do we have here?" I was working in one of Marco Pierre White's restaurants and I can remember the truffle man coming in, opening the box, and that was it. I was completely drawn in.
Do you make reservations or keep meals spontaneous when you travel?
I do a bit of both. Usually I'll book dinners in advance so I can be sure not to miss out on a place I've been dying to try. I'm much more relaxed when it comes to breakfast and lunch, and leave those meals up to the spur of the moment. Go local as possible for sure.
What are your tips for planning a once in a lifetime trip?
I think the best way to collect tips for a trip of a lifetime is ask friends. I have been lucky enough to travel the globe for work and pleasure, and have met some fantastic people in all corners of the world who are also big travelers like me. Even putting out the question to your social media networks often ends in some great first-hand advice.
What are your in-flight beauty tips?
Sleep. Between two restaurants and two children, I really don't get that much sleep, so I take advantage of my time in the sky. I also catch up on documentaries and the latest flicks.
How do you fight jet lag?
Plan something for the first day you arrive so you are out in the sunlight and go to bed at nighttime. The first day of any trip is crucial to beating the jet lag.
Best ways for killing time during a layover?
The airport bar is a pretty good place to perch while killing time. Everyone seems to be in a great mood and is excited to tell you where they are going and where they have been.