'They're Harsh Judges!': Tables Turned As Curtis Stone Cooks For 'MasterChef' Contestants
Michelin-star-winning chef Curtis Stone revealed to 10 daily that our 'MasterChef' top four didn't hold back in critiquing his dishes.
Visiting the 'MasterChef' kitchen for the second time this season, Curtis got to experience life as a contestant, cooking against George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan in a mystery box challenge.
Matt Preston stayed on his usual side of the bench, welcoming his new judging protégés Larissa, Tim, Simon and Tessa -- who were more than comfortable in their apron-less positions of power.
"They were harsh judges, they had lots to say at the end of the cook," Curtis laughed over the phone to 10 daily after the challenge.
"I'm sure they were very happy to be on the other side of the table."
The contestants, who have been sweating over their sous-vide machines for the last few months, finally got to put their feet up and yell at Curtis, George and Gary to hurry up and cook the perfect dish.
"Don't spatch-cock it up!" warned Larissa from the front of the kitchen, clearly relishing her, albeit temporary, promotion.
"It was cool," Curtis said, of the experience.
"You know, Gary and George are such good friends and also so bloody good in the kitchen and it was sort of light-hearted, but still pretty competitive," he said, of the mystery box challenge that involved rainbow trout, golden Kiwi fruit, curry leaves, chestnuts, kohlrabi, coriander seeds, spatchcock and blue cheese.
Although Curtis joked about Larry, Tim, Tessa and Simon being "harsh", he explained there's a reason that he keeps returning to 'MasterChef' year after year (he's been part of every season bar Season 4).
"There's something about it that I love," he told 10 daily.
"I'm not sure if it's the positivity around it, but I think that's really important."
"It's genuine, you know, when we were there, all the contestants that have been eliminated, kicked out, sat on the sideline -- whatever you want to call it -- they're up on the balcony.
"They're genuinely rooting on whoever it is that's cooking. You would imagine that they would be kind of bitter, right? But they're not."
Curtis, who recently won a Michelin star for his Los Angeles restaurant, Maude, joined cooks and chefs including Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein, Yotam Ottolenghi and Massimo Bottura as guests this season.
"The best chefs in the world cycle through that place, they come and be a part of it, and that's pretty cool," Curtis told 10 daily.
"There's something about that energy and just sort of being a part of something like that, that I really like," he added.
When Heston Blumenthal oversaw the Season 7 finale, he invited winner Billie McKay to come and work at his Fat Duck restaurant in the U.K.
We had to ask whether Curtis has ever had his eye out for 'MasterChef' contestants who would be the perfect fit for Gwen or Maude in the U.S.
Curtis told us that, funnily enough, he invited current 'MasterChef' mentor Poh Ling Yeow to Los Angeles after she came second in the first year of the cooking competition.
"She came over and hung out but it wasn't about trying to give her a job, it was more just to give her the experience of coming and seeing what L.A. had to offer. She came over and did an event with me which was fun," he told 10 daily.
Curtis explained that to say thank you for the experience, Poh created "this incredible piece of art" using feathers from her blue budgerigar.
"She took and she made this piece of art out of these budgie feathers and it sits pride of place in our home," Curtis explained.
"But I've never gone shopping for staff -- maybe next season!" he laughed.