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Aussie Chef Shares Culinary Secrets With Americans

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What if a famous Australian chef came to your home and offered to make dinner?

That's the premise of a new television cooking show-but with a twist. Chef Curtis Stone is making his debut on American television, ambushing unsuspecting shoppers with an offer they simply can't refuse. Each episode in the series called "Take Home Chef," shown Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on TLC, begins with a covert Stone racing through a grocery store as he searches for the perfect culinary partner. Once he's found one he turns on the charm, offering to accompany the shopper home and prepare a gourmet meal using the items in his or her shopping cart-plus a few savory extras.

Once participants seem willing to go along with this culinary adventure, they take Stone home and work with him in their own kitchens or out at the grill to create a delicious dinner. And, as Australians are known for "throwing another one on the barbee," Chef Stone is likely to be sharing a lot of his grilling secrets from Down Under, while at the same time learning how to function in an average American kitchen.

Some of the grilling tips offered in "Take Home Chef" include:

• When cooking larger pieces of meat, like roasts, pile the coals on one side and place the food on the other. This allows for indirect cooking and reduces charring.

• Don't use charcoal lighter fluid or briquettes that have added starter fluid built into them. This will leave an unpleasant taste in the smoke.

• Rubs are one of the best things you can use to add flavor to your meat. They are combinations of spices that seal in the flavor of the meat, form a tasty crust, enhance color and pull moisture from the air while drawing juices from inside the meat, causing the meat to marinate itself as it cooks.

Chef Curtis Stone started his culinary career at The Savoy Hotel, in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia at the age of 18. The European and British chefs he knew there taught him the importance of working abroad to increase one's experience and skills. That's why, once he'd qualified as a chef, he set off for Europe to experience Italy, France and Spain before finally arriving in London.

There, he was eventually promoted to be head chef at the critically acclaimed Quo Vadis, a London institution since 1926.

So what's this new American TV show like for Chef Stone? "Cooking in someone else's home can be absolutely anything; it can be fabulous or a complete disaster," he says. "It's the fear of the unknown that makes it so exciting."

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