Paddleboarding, Peel-and-Eat Shrimp and Sand Castles: Curtis Stone Previews Beach Eats USA and Shares His Best Waterside Memories
Crystal-blue waters, the subtle hum of the ocean and the warm, soft sand — few things are as both calming and exciting as a day at the beach, and on his all-new series, Beach Eats USA, Curtis Stone is off to show fans why, all while exploring the best bites up for grabs at the waterside. Ahead of this week's premiere (on Wednesday at 10:30|9:30c), FN Dish checked in with Curtis for a one-on-one chat about all things sand, shores and surfside dining — from the first look at the adventures he'll undertake on Beach Eats USA (think speedy ziplining) to his four to-dos when ordering from seaside haunts.
What can fans look forward to seeing on Beach Eats USA?
Curtis Stone: A lot of fun, as well as cooking and eating (lots of eating!) down-home, good, classic American favorites outdoors at some of the most-beautiful locations in America (and right on the sand, in most cases!). You'll see me get really silly, joking with the chefs, and trying new things — like the rings on the beach at Santa Monica (ha!), paddleboarding in the mangroves in Key West, where I could see the fish swimming alongside me, riding a helicopter over the Virginia coast (sharing the same airspace with some of America's top naval fighter planes — yowza!) and ziplining through beautiful Catalina (and nearly wetting myself), to name a few. You'll see breathtaking, never-before-seen, aerial shots of these beautiful beachside locations, too.
What foods are you most excited to try as you visit different locations?
CS: I'm a big seafood lover, so I'm really looking forward to sampling all the local, seasonal seafood along the coasts of Key West, Alabama, Virginia and South Carolina — states that I don't get to visit as often…states that pride themselves on eating only what they catch while in season and off their shores. I love that!
Like the plump, tender Key West pink shrimp that are caught, cooked and served within the same day at Geiger Keys — featured in a po' boy sandwich, and served simply and beautifully in their peel-and-eat shrimp. The ceviche made with local fresh hogfish and grouper. Local oysters from the shores of Virginia (and made even more delicious with their local Conecuh bacon!), especially the oyster roast in Virginia, where oysters are roasted outdoors over charcoal and shoveled over a picnic table and enjoyed with a few beers and friends.
What does the term "beach eat" mean to you? What qualifies as a "beach eat"?
CS: To me, “beach eat” features local foods, especially seafood, served as freshly and simply cooked as possible. It can be anything from a fresh seared togarashi-encrusted ahi tuna salad to a crunchy soft-shell crab sandwich that's so messy and juicy it's a good thing I'm eating outdoors! It's the ultimate in casual dining: Flip-flops, T-shirts and shorts are always welcome! And the celebratory, fun and friendly atmosphere coupled [with] a gorgeous view of the water is just as much a part of a beach eat as the food.
What are your top-four do's for ordering at beachside restaurants?
CS: Always order a drink! It doesn't matter if it's your favorite beer or the restaurant's signature cocktail (hello, Alabama Bushwacker!) Trust me! 2. Always sit outside, and when possible, with your shoes off and toes in the sand. 3. Never miss the sunset. There's no better time to dine beachside than during sunset! 4. Always order the local seafood specialty.
CS: My ultimate beach eat would have to be the Alabama Crab Boil! After wrapping for the day, I got to hang out with Bob Baumhower of Bimini Bob's and some friends in Alabama at a magnificent crab boil dinner right on the beach. It was the ultimate in Southern hospitality. We started with local oysters on the half shell, local brews, moonshine cocktails and a sunset. Then we sat down to an incredible table piled high with crabs, shrimp, corn on the cob, cornbread and potatoes, and finished with a berry crumble for dessert. Then we sat around a bonfire reminiscing about our travels. It was a beautiful way to dine and spend time with both old and new friends.
Fill in the blank: If I see _____ on the menu at a beachside restaurant, I will always order it.
CS: If I see soft-shell crab sandwiches on the menu at a beachside restaurant, I will always order it.
CS: Peel-and-eat shrimp from Key West; oysters from South Carolina to open and eat up simply with a squeeze of lemon; a fresh piece of fish and corn on the cob to grill; warm, crusty bread; beers; something chocolatey.
When you're spending a day at the beach, how are you most likely to spend your time (surfing, reading, swimming, tanning, etc.)?
CS: I don’t take my beach days lying down. I like to try out all kinds of beach sports, like paddleboarding, surfing, bodyboarding and beach volleyball (though I haven’t absolutely mastered any of them in particular). However, I’m pretty awesome at building sand castles these days — I have two little boys, so I get a bit of help.
Australia is, of course, well known for its spectacular beaches. Do you have memories of going to the beach as a child?
CS: I have the best memories of spending time at Queenscliff beach, which is about an hour’s drive south-west of Melbourne. Mum used take my brother Luke and I to the beach every weekend in summer. It’s the simplicity that made it so memorable — mucking about at the water’s edge, eating Calippo icy poles and getting sticky fingers and a pink-blue tongue, and Luke and I egging each other on to take on the big waves. These are all fond memories that have stuck with me.