On his current Bravo series,
"Around the World in 80 Plates"
-- which he hosts with fellow celebrity chef and avid adventurer
is in the midst of the ultimate culinary expedition that has taken him through Paris and London, Florence and Tuscany, Bologna and Marrakesh. He calls it the ultimate job -- and the ultimate learning experience, even for a chef of his credentials.
"Two of my passions, of course, are food and travel, so when you get asked to do a show that encompasses both, it's just an absolute dream!" Stone, a Melbourne, Australia, native who has an infant son, Hudson, with his longtime love, actress Lindsay Price, tells
. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, I'm going to get to go around the world, and they're going to pay me to do it!' "
Long a proponent of using local, organic and seasonal ingredients in ways that allow the food -- as much as the cooking -- to take center stage, Stone especially appreciates the show's spotlight on regional customs and flavors.
"The beautiful thing about culture and cuisine is that they are so intertwined," he says. "We were in Tuscany at one point, and it was wintertime. One of the contestants used basil in his ingredients, and the locals were just dumbfounded. They were like, 'This is something you'd find in Liguria!' Even for me, I would have never thought that they would think so regionally about herbs! The little intricacies are what make it so interesting."
So do the show's colorful chef-contestants, whose ranks have now dwindled to a handful of contenders.
Stone, who will host a fourth season of "Top Chef Masters" beginning next month, says he's not surprised that his comrades in the culinary arts make for such compelling TV. "We're competitive by nature," he says, laughing. "We have huge egos as chefs, and we all think that we've worked the hardest and learned from the best -- that's why cooking competition series work so well!"
What are you currently reading?
'Secrets of the Baby Whisperer,' believe it or not!"
What did you have for dinner last night?
"Last night we had a T-bone steak -- we shared that -- with some cauliflower in a Mornay sauce, and some snap peas and honey-roasted carrots that I grew in my garden."
What is your next project?
"I'm going back to Australia to do a little bit of work there. I'm working on a new cookbook and a restaurant idea -- a bunch of things!"
When was the last vacation you took -- where and why?
"Turks & Caicos. We went to this incredible resort called Amanyara, and we just did nothing. We lay on the beach -- it was just Lindsay and I -- and took long walks and didn't do much at all. But that was a while ago. Now that you say it, I need a vacation!"