Food & Drink | June 3, 2022 7:00 am

Curtis Stone Talks Steaks, “Iron Chef” and the Future of Dallas Dining

We caught up with the celebrity chef at Georgie, his Dallas restaurant and butcher shop

Filet at Georgie
Filet at Georgie
Beckley

Curtis Stone has three restaurants and a Michelin star. He’s been a fixture on television for more than a decade, with regular turns on Top Chef Masters and the Today show, and he has authored several cookbooks. But selling steaks to Dallas diners might be his most ambitious project to date.

Stone opened Georgie in late 2019 with his brother, Luke Stone, and partner Stephen Courseau, who also owns neighboring restaurants Le Bilboquet and Knox Bistro. In addition to the dining room and bar, which are open for dinner and Sunday brunch, Georgie also features an adjacent butcher shop, where locals can score high-quality cuts of meat and grab coffee, juice and baked goods in the morning and sandwiches for lunch. “When we came to Dallas, we found an emerging restaurant scene with plenty of room for something new and different,” says Stone. “I think Dallas is still on its journey, and it’s an exciting time to be here.” 

Here, a state of the city with the master (and possibly Iron) chef.

On Nailing the Concept…

Georgie is more than just steak, with a menu that also features house-made charcuterie and lots of seafood. But in order to be successful, Stone and his partners knew they had to get the steak right.

“Imagine the contemplation at the start,” Stone says. “I’m an Aussie who’s going to open a high-end steakhouse in Dallas. We’re going to bring in Australian wagyu beef and tell Texans that it’s the best beef on the planet. It’s kind of arrogant, and it could all go down in flames unless it’s really, really good.”

Fortunately, it is really good. But with two restaurants in Los Angeles — Gwen, a restaurant and butcher shop with parallels to Georgie, and Maude, a tasting menu concept — Stone can only visit Dallas a few times per year. So to ensure the trains run smoothly, he relies on his team. In addition to man-on-the-ground Courseau, that includes executive chef Christian Dortch, who has worked with Stone at both of his LA restaurants and understands what his boss expects.

Part of Dortch’s job is interpreting Stone’s vision for the dining experience, but he says it’s always a collaborative experience, and he’s given the freedom to experiment with new ideas and plates. “I enjoy that chef’s freedom of expression, but it’s in a well-controlled manner, and we flesh things out together,” says Dortch.

Stone adds that it’s important for chefs and restaurateurs to set an example for the staff, whether it’s the cooks, dishwashers, servers or hosts.

“If you’re going to inspire your team to be fast and dynamic and creative, then you have to do that too. And if you want a clean kitchen, then you have to clean as well,” Stone says. “If I’m outside having a glass of wine with some guests, why should they clean?”

Dortch is quick to point out that they’d still clean because Stone is the one writing the checks, but the sentiment holds. 

On the Dallas Dining Scene…

Stone has high expectations for Dallas’s culinary future, mentioning that the city is currently seeing an influx of chefs and restaurant groups coming in from elsewhere, like Major Food Group from New York, which recently opened Carbone, Carbone Vino and Sadelle’s. He thinks this is a positive trend for Dallas, as it will continue drawing a larger talent pool to the city. As new chefs come to Dallas, they bring in teams who stick around and open their own high-quality restaurants, where they can train the next generation of chefs. Stone says this local talent pool is what it takes for a city to be a true dining destination, and it’s what can put Dallas on the same level as top dining cities like New York, Los Angeles and London.

For Georgie, Stone and team scooped up 27 people for the back-of-house staff. “It takes a village,” he says. “You can’t have two good people and 25 bad ones. I want this restaurant to be here in 20 years, and for people to still talk about it as fondly then as they do today. I want it to be an institution.”

When he’s in Dallas, Stone spends most of his time at Georgie. But he has done some eating and drinking when off the clock. During his most recent trip, he stopped into Bowen House, calling it a fun little spot to get a cocktail. And in prior trips he’s enjoyed dinners at The Charles and Town Hearth. 

On Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend…

Stone’s a busy guy. He’s fresh off filming the new iteration of Iron Chef, which premieres June 15 on Netflix. He’s joined by a heavy-hitter lineup of chefs, including Dominique Crenn, Marcus Samuelsson, Gabriela Camara and Ming Tsai. The Chairman is back, along with Alton Brown and new commentator Kristen Kish, winner of Top Chef season 10, and judges Andrew Zimmern and Nilou Motamed. Each week will see talented challengers enter Kitchen Stadium, plus big-name guest judges like Wolfgang Puck and Masaharu Morimoto. 

Netflix pulled out all the stops, as they’re prone to do, and the eight-episode season features a new Kitchen Stadium and every tool a chef could possibly want. Like before, chefs will be tasked with creating dishes around a secret ingredient. 

“You’re cooking under ridiculous pressure, making a five-course menu in 60 minutes for these judges,” Stone says. “And you’re cooking against someone who’s brilliant, which is crazy intimidating, so you get this wave of panic.” Throw in the secret ingredient, and chefs have to quickly plan a menu and tailor their ideas to what can reasonably be accomplished in the set timeframe. It’s difficult, but Stone embraced the challenge.  

“Chefs are innately competitive, and we love pushing ourselves,” he says. “We don’t do this for the easy lifestyle. It’s like I say to Christian sometimes: Suck it up mate, you chose this.”