My Behind-the-Scenes Look w/ Chef Curtis Stone & His New Book 'What's for Dinner: Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life'

photos Brunch at Saks 

In August, I was invited by Chef Curtis Stone's team and Ballantine Books to his house for a behind-the-scenes "sneak peek" of the photo shoot for his new book What's for Dinner? Delicious Recipes for a Busy LifeWhile there, Curtis prepared lunch for us as well (a real pinch-me moment!), and I'm so excited to finally have gotten the green-light to share the details with you!

See what a book photo shoot really looks behind-the-scenes, read about what we had for lunch + more below!

When I first arrived at Curtis' house, I was greeted by an entire staff of chefs and assistants working in a makeshift kitchen that had been set up in his garage for the week-long photo shoot. Off to the far right side of the cooking stations was an entire wall that had been covered in paper, detailing every recipe needed to be prepared for the photo shoot taking place inside the home. There were so many recipes written on the wall that it was hard for me to grasp that this team had been making each dish, one after another for days on end at this point, in order to get all the shots needed for the book. I imagine the leftovers from that entire shoot made plenty of tummy's very happy!

Once inside his house, we headed to the living room where the food was being styled and photographed. The room was filled to the brim with endless amounts of gorgeous props; from colorful glass jars to antique silverware, textured linens to beautiful heirloom china. It was truly a cookware lover's heaven and each piece undoubtedly made for a book filled with stunning pages. The stylist for the shoot was working closely with the photographer the entire time, picking up pieces from around the room and trying out different settings before finding the perfect look for each dish. Curtis was right alongside it all, shuffling back and forth between food preparation, the photo shoot, choosing props to accompany the dishes, and all the while being a gracious host to us and answering any questions we had about the book and his work in general. At one point we took a peek at some new pieces from Curtis' line of cookware, which is awesome and definitely going on my holiday wish list this year!

After being surrounded by copious amount of delicious-looking food all morning, it would be an understatement to say that I was dying at this point for the much-anticipated lunch portion of the day! We sat around a table placed at the outer edge of his backyard - which overlooks the hills and some parts of Los Angeles - and Curtis served an amazing spread of caprese salad, glazed ribs, veggie lasagna, and fresh strawberries with mascarpone for dessert.

Side note: If you've read my blog for a while, then you know about my food allergies to gluten, dairy, soy, etc. I was so incredibly nervous going into a meal with one of the world's most famous chefs and having to tell him the dreaded, "I'm sorry, I cannot eat that." Thankfully, those fears never became a reality, because Curtis and his team were so kind and gracious regarding the issue that I could not have felt more at ease and comfortable in a food setting. Not only did they inquire with me a few days prior about my allergies after knowing about them from my blog,  but Curtis went out of his way to say he knew I was gluten-free and mentioned the things I could and could not eat based on the ingredients. The food I was able to enjoy was unbelievably good, and I think the most important thing I learned that day is that because Curtis' recipes have so many fresh, natural ingredients in them, even someone like myself can enjoy them with very little, if any, tweaks.

For those of you who like to cook, are interested in cooking, or know someone who likes anything culinary related, then What's For Dinner: Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life is an absolute must-have cook book to have in your kitchen. It is filled with recipe ideas for every day of the week - each of which is practical both money and time-wise - for a family of any size. You can pre-order it now on Amazon, or it will be available in stores in April 2013.

A huge, huge thank you to Curtis Stone, his team, and Ballantine Books for the invitation, and also for allowing me to share these photos I took that day!


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