Courtesy Curtis Stone; Inset: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
And you thought making Thanksgiving dinner was daunting. Can you imagine making a meal for 1,100 guests?
That’s celebrity chef Curtis Stone‘s reality right now. For the fourth year running, Stone is the executive chef of the G’Day USA Black Tie Gala in L.A. on Jan. 11 and he has a lot of hungry mouths to feed—including that of fellow Aussies Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Geoffrey Rush, one of the night’s honorees. How’s that for pressure?
“I love a challenge,” Stone tells PEOPLE. “There are many elements to consider when cooking a menu for [that many] guests. Will the dish be hot when it lands on each person’s table? Will the flavor hold up? What can be prepped in advance and what needs to be done on the day?”
So when Stone, whose new restaurant Maude opens soon in Beverly Hills, created the menu for the event this year, you’d think he’d pick something E-A-S-Y, right? Apparently, that word isn’t in the Australian vernacular.
“This is the first year that I’m trying something as adventurous as ravioli. Can you imagine rolling out 1,100 of these bad boys?” he says, adding that each one has to be rolled moments before it’s cooked. “It’s actually a really huge task but I’ve got a great group of chefs on board to help me make it happen. Ravioli is one of my absolute favorite dishes. Ahhh, I could eat it everyday!”
Guests like Sharon Osbourne—who is presenting Stone with the first-ever Excellence in the Culinary Arts Award—and actress Jacki Weaver will be served plates featuring Australian lamb (“It truly is some of the most beautiful lamb in the world,” he says) garnished with mushrooms and cauliflower. The hand-rolled ravioli will be stuffed with smoked Australian Glacier 51 toothfish sourced from the icy cold sub-Antarctic. It includes orange, chocolate, brown butter shiso for dessert, too—bonza! (That’s Australian for yummy!)
Even if you can’t be there to taste his ravioli first-hand, you can try your hand at some Australian cooking on your own barbi with Stone’s at-home version of his pasta recipe, featuring the same wild tiger shrimp from the gala, with kale leaves and fennel.
A “no fuss attitude” is all you need to cook like the folks from Down Under, he says, adding that he prefers ingredients that are seasonal and market driven. “We tend to eat outside a lot, enjoy shared plates and love great produce cooked and presented simply. I grew up eating this way and I try to encourage others to be relaxed in the kitchen and at the dinner table, it’s the best way to be!”
Fresh Fettuccine with Shrimp, Fennel and Kale
Serves 4 to 6
1⅔ cups “00” flour, plus more for dusting
3 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup whole milk
3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
3 cups (about) grapeseed oil (for frying)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, fronds finely chopped (¼ cup)
3 cavolo nero kale leaves, thinly sliced
½ red jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
1 pound tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left intact)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
To make the fettuccine dough:
1. Place the flour in a large bowl and form a well in the center of the flour. Place the egg yolks, eggs, olive oil, and salt in the center of the well. Using a fork, whisk the egg mixture to blend. Gradually whisk the flour into the egg mixture until a thick batter forms. Using your hands, gradually mix in enough of the remaining flour to form a shaggy dough. Do not incorporate any hardened bits of flour into the dough.
2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and semi-soft. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Dust 1 piece of pasta with flour and flatten with your hand into a rectangle. Run the dough through the widest setting of the pasta maker. Fold into thirds and repeat the rolling and folding about 4 times, dusting the folded dough piece with flour as needed before running it through the machine each time. This helps knead the dough and make it more elastic.
4. Without folding the dough, run the dough through the machine, reducing the space between the rollers one setting at a time until reaching the second to last setting on the pasta maker. The dough will be about 2 mm thick. Lay the sheet of dough on a floured work surface. Cut the pasta sheet crosswise in half. Cut the pasta sheets into fettuccine.
To make the garlic chips:
1. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the milk and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, strain the garlic and discard milk. Transfer the cooked garlic to paper towels to drain the excess liquid and pat dry.
2. Fill a small heavy saucepan with enough grapeseed oil to reach a depth of about 1½-inches and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until it is golden. Strain the garlic and transfer it to paper towels to drain the excess oil.
To prepare the pasta:
1. Heat a large heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil then add the fennel and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the kale and chile and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the kale is wilted. Season with salt. Transfer to a plate.
2. Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and sauté for about 6 minutes, or until just cooked through. Return the kale mixture to the pan with the shrimp and toss to coat and rewarm, if necessary.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fettuccine and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until it is al dente. Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the pan with the shrimp and toss to coat. Add the fennel fronds and finely grate the peel of the lemon over. Add the butter and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
4. Mound the pasta in the center of 4 to 6 pasta bowls. Arrange the shrimp over the pasta. Garnish with the garlic chips and serve immediately.
WATCH: Curtis Stone Confesses His Biggest Kitchen Disaster