When Curtis Stone began his career in kitchens in his youth, he once found out what happens when you shell out real money to dine at a truly superlative restaurant — but he found out quite by accident.
"When I was 22, I had no money — I was a broke cook," he told The Feast (clip above). "I went to the south of France and I went to a restaurant I really couldn't afford to eat in — it was called Chateau Chèvre d'Or. It was this beautiful little Michelin-starred place on the south of France on the Côte d'Azur, it jets out onto the water."
La Chèvre d'Or describes its culinary outlook as "a solar, mineral, and marine cuisine that is also aromatic and vegetal." And dining there still costs a pretty penny to this day: The restaurant serves tasting menus as well as an à la carte menu, where entrees hover in the $100 range.
"The food was beyond anything I'd ever gotten to sit down and dine in," he recalled. "I had worked in a place like that but I'd never actually gotten to sit down and be a guest. I went up and asked to see a menu, and I think in my bad French they thought I was asking for a table so they showed me through to a table and I sat me down."
You can see where this is going...
"So guess what? I spent the entire month's salary on one single meal," he said. "And was it worth it — I'll never forget that lunch! It was a multi-course degustation menu so I got all little bits and pieces, and the detail that went into this food! I remember having the lamb dish, it was the main course, and this was nearly 20 years ago that I did it, but the lamb shoulder was slowly braised. There was a little piece of the filet and it was wrapped in some kind of Swiss chard or something like that, and then there was a little bit of the shank that was done in a ravioli. There were all these different parts of the lamb on the plate, like this beautiful assiette. I remember this little copper pan, mashed potatoes, a little sauce over the top so you had to spoon into the mashed potatoes through the sauce — oh, it was so good!"
So it sure does seem like the experience was worth it after all — even in the days before he became a famous chef who could actually afford it.
Curtis is the host of the new series Top Chef Jr., which premieres Friday, October 13 at 8/7c. Watch it only on the NEW Universal Kids. Plus, tune in for Top Chef's Season 15 premiere on Thursday, December 7 at 10 pm PT/ET... and get your first look at it here!
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