The Time Curtis Stone Made Me Dance in Front of 500 People


I’m just going to come right out with it – Curtis Stone made me stir fry while dancing in front of 500 people, then kissed my cheek. Twice. AHHHH!!


Ahem! Sorry, but, AHHHH!!!

Ok, let me back up for a sec! As I mentioned, this Friday my Mom and I drove to Davenport to attend a luncheon to benefit Gilda’s Club, a national cancer support organization, featuring a cooking demonstration and Q&A session with hunky Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone.


My friend John works for Panera, who partners with Gilda’s Club, and had tickets to the luncheon. Knowing that I wouldn’t want to miss the chance to see Curtis in person, he invited me and my Mom to join him. I owe him BIG time for this one!


The luncheon took place at the beautiful Rivercenter in Davenport, and the menu was just delicious. We started with a side salad,


then devoured Apricot Ginger Chicken (desperate for the recipe!) and roasted potatoes.


There was raspberry cheesecake and triple layer chocolate cake for dessert, that I wanted to plant my face into, but alas there are 14 more days of Lent!


During lunch there were people walking around selling $20 raffle tickets for a chance to cook with Curtis during one of three live demos he’d start after we finished eating. My Mom and I dug into our purses, but realized we had both left our checkbooks in the car when switching to smaller purses for the event. Huge. Bummer. At least we were seated pretty close to the stage, so we’d just have to settle for staring at him from slightly afar.

After dessert had been eaten, and the coffee was poured, the main event got underway. Come on down, Curtis! :)


The crowd, which was no less than 500, and 99% women, went completely bananas as he jogged in from a side door and climbed up onto a wide stage in front of the room, stocked with a portable oven, cookware, dishes and tons of food.


Now, I’m used to seeing Curtis’ life-sized cardboard cutout when I go grocery shopping at Hy-Vee every week, who he partners with, but holy buckets he is SO much more handsome in person, and absolutely oozing with charm and charisma. He had everyone giggling within seconds. ;)


Curtis started the first cooking demo by reaching his hand into a bucket containing the names of people who purchased raffle tickets, and calling out two of them to come and join him on stage.


As two women shrieked with joy and made their way up, I turned to John and whispered,

Good for Curtis Stone, you know? I can’t even imagine standing up there in front of 500 people and putting on a show like that. Getting up in front of a group is literally my biggest nightmare.”

“Really?” he answered back.

“Yes, really! I mean, maybe it’d be easier to go up in front of a large group instead of a small one because you wouldn’t have to make direct eye contact with anyo – no, wait, yeah it’s still my biggest nightmare. Never in a million years.”


The first cooking demo wrapped up, and the giggling women left the stage with hearts a’flutter – their year, no doubt, completely made.

Next it was time for the second cooking demo to start. Curtis reached his hand into the bucket and pulled out a ticket, announcing the name in his thick Australian accent.

Kierstin Smeeth, (pretend my last name is Smith,) come on up!


Kierstin Smeeth? Is there a Kierstin Smeeth out there?

Nobody got up and everyone looked around all, where the hell is this Kiersten Smeeth and why is she not sprinting up there to cook with this total babe?!

Just then I feel my Mom poking my back. I turn around and she’s practically jumping out of her seat “It’s you! It’s you! I bought a raffle ticket!!!”

omg I’m Kierstin Smeeth? I’M KIERSTIN SMEETH!!!!


I honest to God could not recognize my name through Curtis’ accent, and for all I knew neither my Mom nor I purchased a ticket, so why would it be me anyways?! But it was. IT WAS!!!

In complete shock I got up and slowly made my way to the stage, cheeks already burning. I could not believe that I had just gotten done telling John what a train wreck I am in front of a group, and here I was about to do exactly that.

But Curtis was there. At the top of the steps leading onto the stage. Hand outstretched. I reached up to take his hand, and he drew me in for a hug then kissed me on the cheek. The crowd gasped.

Curtis Stone just kissed me on the cheek.

“Kierstin, is it?” he asks, his hand covering his mic.

“Oh, um, it’s Kristin, actually!” I respond, trying not to barf.

He leads me to the center of the stage where the other woman who was called, Heidi, has already joined us, then begins to explain how the cooking demo will work.

I can barely move at this point. I’m thinking, OMG I’M STANDING NEXT TO CURTIS STONE AND HE JUST KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK AND HE SMELLS SO GOOD! (Yves St Laurent, someone asked!) but I’m shaking like a leaf from stage fright.

Just when I started to slightly calm down, Curtis declares, “Ladies! Today you are going to help me make a fresh and easy stir fry.” showing us a wide variety of ingredients laid out on the table in front of us. “Also, ladies, I just came out with a new mortar & pestle product. Do you know what a mortar & pestle is?”

We nod. Mimicking grinding motions in the air, grinning like idiots.

“Well, my mortar & pestle has a special name. It’s called the Bump & Grind, and you’re going to use it to make a special stir fry sauce!

I spin to face Heidi, horrified. I think I know where this is going.

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Keep cool! I tell myself, fanning my face with my hand all, ooo Curtis Stone just said bump & grind! getting a slight laugh from the crowd. On the inside I’m all please don’t say it, please don’t say it, please don’t say it…

Then he said it.

“And you’re going to bump & grind while ya’ do it!”

It gets worse.

“To music!”

Much worse.

“It’ll be a competition, and the audience will vote on who has the best bump & grind which will determine our winner!”


I pretty much panic at this point. Me, the ultimate introvert, dancing, nay – bumping & grinding – on stage to some Black Eyed Peas song, while sloshing soy sauce all over myself trying not to hurl on Curtis Stone.


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I briefly forget how unbelievably awkward I’m dancing when Curtis picks up my phone, which I had brought up to document the moment.


This is my favorite picture ever.


Approximately 47 terrifying minutes later (you try grinding in front of 500 people standing next to Curtis Stone and see how long it feels to you!) the song mercifully shut off.


Tasting is next, and while Curtis and sous chef Steve deem my stir fry the best, the audience – wait for it – chooses Heidi as the bump & grind winner through cheers and applause. I contemplate making a run for it, leaving a Kristin-shaped hole in the wall of the Rivercenter.


Instead I stay, get my picture taken with Curtis, then get another pity kiss on the cheek as I practically sprint down the stairs and away from the stage. Every mortifying minute worth it. BAHAHAHAHAHA – Curtis, freaking, Stone!

Emotionally scarring moments aside, Curtis is the nicest person, and such a gentleman. After the luncheon he stayed to sign autographs and take pictures with anyone who wanted one, with an unwavering smile on his face the entire time. He didn’t falter once. Each picture he took looked like the first picture – what a great guy! (And seriously, HUNK!)

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But my Mom – oh my Mom! She had excused herself during lunch for what I assumed was a bathroom break, but what she actually did was go and pay for a raffle ticket with her credit card. “I just wanted you to have a chance to cook with Curtis!” Angel. I nearly cried.


Still all riled up two days later, I decided to make a Curtis Stone recipe for dinner tonight.

Homemade Pizza!


With a yeast crust!


I figure if I can awkwardly stumble around dance in front of 500 people I can make a homemade pizza crust. ;)


And you can too – it’s honestly very simple!


Start by adding 1 Tablepoon honey and a packet of active dry yeast to 1 1/4 cups warm water.

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Stir everything together, and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minute, giving the yeast time to “activate”.


After 5 minutes, there should be a foam on top of the liquid. Yeast = ready!


Next, pulse together 1 teaspoon salt and 3 cups all purpose flour in a large food processor.

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Add in the activated yeast, and 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, then let ‘er rip for 10 seconds, or until the dough comes together.

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Pretty much just like this!


Turn the dough out onto a flat, well-floured surface, then knead for 3 minutes, adding extra flour when necessary.

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So far so good, yes?


Pinch the dough in to the middle to form 2 balls.


Place the balls onto a well floured baking sheet and dust the tops with more flour.


Cover with plastic wrap, then place the baking sheet in a warm, dry area for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough balls have doubled in size. I placed my baking sheet on top of the stove, with the oven set to 450 degrees.




Form one dough ball into a circle, then place it onto a well-greased pizza pan. My dough spread super quick – too quick to snap a picture!  Brush the top with olive oil and minced garlic.


Next, consult your toppings. We’ve got: asparagus (the thinner, then better!) fresh mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives, baby heirloom tomatoes and red onion.


Spread out the toppings, then drizzle more olive oil on top, and give the whole thing a generous sprinkle of salt & pepper.


Into the oven for 10 minutes at 500 degrees! Pipin’ hot, yo!


And devour!!!!


Ok, I don’t know what has taken me so long to make homemade pizza dough. This was so easy!


The crust was light and chewy.


The toppings, hot and fresh. I am obsessed with the combo of sweet tomatoes and salty olives!


This was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. ;)


Click here for the pizza dough recipe! >

Well I think I’ve had just about enough fun for one weekend. I hope you did too!

Off to daydream… ;)


Have you ever met anyone famous? Did they live up to your expectations?

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  1. I think I was laughing and crying through this whole thing. You’re mom is the sweetest…how totally cool. And looking at the photos I never would have guessed you were nervous. So have you washed your cheek yet?

    Oh, and did Curtis know HE was cooking with someone famous too? I’m just sayin…

  2. Trisha 03.25.2012

    What a fun-filled event for you!! Curtis Stone is a total babe, I absolutely would’ve stumbled my way through such an ordeal. I met Lauren Graham while vacationing in Mexico a few years ago. I acted like a stupid child, walking up to her in restaurant, asking for a photo. She was very kind & gracious though. Absolutely flawless skin! At the time, I knew her only from Gilmore Girls & Bad Santa (both of which I watched & liked) but I absolutely ADORE Parenthood & love watching her on it each week! :)

  3. Beth 03.25.2012

    This is such a happy story! Good for you Kristin! Fun fun fun….

  4. Kristin 03.25.2012

    Awww your mom is so sweet. What an amazing experience. I would have been nervous and had stage fright also.

  5. Sarah 03.25.2012

    This is totally awesome! So cool – and I’m so jealous! What an amazing experience to have, and you did such a good job documenting it :) Your pizza looks tasty, too – I’ve never made crust with honey and am going to give it a try!

  6. Amy 03.25.2012

    That sounds like quite the day………….your mom is amazing! Serendipity=meeting Curtis………..!!!

    Yay you IGE!

  7. kelly 03.25.2012

    What a sweet mom! And hubba hubba – Curtis Stone!! :)

  8. Amy M @ In The Mixing Bowl 03.25.2012

    What a funny story! Love the horrifying/wonderful combination of feelings. I always get kind of creeped out by the ever-present Curtis Stine cut-outs at Hy-Vee…Glad to hear that he’s a sweetheart!

  9. Lisa S 03.25.2012

    This looks super easy, but I don’t have a large food processor. Do you think a mixer would do the trick?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.25.2012

      Hmmm…I’m not sure! Let me do some research…

    • Jen 03.25.2012

      If you have a dough hook, I use my kitchen aid all the time to make dough. Not sure if it would work without the dough hook never tried it.

      • Lisa S 03.26.2012

        I do have a kitchen aid with a dough hook. may just have to try that! Thanks!

  10. OMG so jealous you met Curtis Stone! I’ve loved him ever since he did the show Take Home Chef on TLC a few years back. I too have always been scared to make homemade pizza dough – or anything else that involves yeast and rising – but will surely have to try this!

    • Jen 03.25.2012

      I loved that show and was sad when it ended, and he is so hot and that accent don’t help!

  11. Karina 03.25.2012

    I loved this!! So awesome for you-that picture of you and Curtis and your mom is great! I laughed all throughout reading this and read it out-loud to my husband! What a wonderful memory.

    How does Ben feel about all those kisses and pictures of you and Curtis? =)

  12. Angela 03.25.2012

    OMG! That is so cool! I have a massive crush on Curtis Stone – the accent is to die for!

  13. Janyce 03.25.2012

    You did a great job telling this story – I loved it! Congrats on your win. :)

  14. Lindsey 03.25.2012

    That is so exciting! Good for you! I would have been terrified too, I hate being up in front of people. I think people can tell though since every time I am somewhere and they look for volunteers I get chosen. No matter what! Urgh! haha. But it is always fun in the end.

  15. Hilarious!! Glad you lived to write the post! ;)

  16. What a great story! I totally felt for you though. Even though it’s an amazing experience being in front of tons of people can be horrifying! You did great tho and you met Curtis Stone!!!! :)

  17. steph 03.25.2012

    So happy for you. And, strangely, I am a regular reader of your blog but had to google to find out about this Curtis Stone guy…haha.

  18. WOW! That’s so awesome. It looks like it was a blast as-is, but getting up there on stage… WOW! I’d be ecstatic and mortified, just like you described! haha Your mom is the greatest.

  19. Eleni 03.25.2012

    John’s sister is one of my best friends. Small world!

  20. Curtis Stone is one of my biggest celebrity crushes! So, so handsome and the accent just makes it 10x better. You are such a lucky gal! Very jealous over here! That pizza looks awesome, nice and light for Springtime!

  21. Oh my gosh! You had me smiling and laughing reading this entire thing. I can only imagine how horrifying that must’ve been to have to DANCE in front of all those people, gah!
    But worth it of course :)

  22. Allison 03.25.2012

    Wow, it was definitely fate. Your mom surprised you with tickets to the event AND you won the raffle after your mom bought a surprise raffle ticket! Isn’t it funny how things work out?

    I met Jay Leno on the sidewalk outside a comedy club. He shook my hand and said thanks for coming to the show. He posed for a picture. Incredibly nice guy.

    I am insanely jealous of the reader who met Lauren Graham.

  23. Elena Ballam 03.25.2012

    Awesome post! I have literally watched every Take Home Chef episode–so good! Just want to know where your dress is from, because I love it!!

  24. Oh my goodness! I love Curtis Stone…he really is so cute =) What an awesome experience!

  25. jessica 03.25.2012

    Hahahaha! What an awesome opportunity you had! The pizza looks amazing!

  26. What an awesome story to have! My first thought while reading it was, “Wait, your name is Kierstin? How have I been screwing it up for years and calling you Kristin?” lol I got to meet Gavin DeGraw once, but it was just for a quick autograph and picture… all the witty things I thought I would say to him when I got to meet him went straight out the door once I got in front of him!

  27. Alison 03.25.2012

    What an awesome experience!! I’m glad you had fun despite the intimidating nature of doing some cooking/dancing in front of 500 people. :) And that pizza looks YUMMY. I love how light the dough looks.

  28. Alissa 03.26.2012

    How cool is that! So jealous!! :)

  29. …and that is why I love you. You are freaking hilarious!

  30. Melissa 03.26.2012

    I just love Curtis Stone and i love that you got a chance to cook with him! How sweet of your mom :) Moms are the best!

  31. Wow wow wow this is my favorite post everrr! Can’t believe you met Curtis like that, seriously amazing girl. He is so incredibly handsome and talented, I would have been on cloud 9 for days ;)

  32. Katrine 03.26.2012

    I’m DYING! He is a dreamboat and you must’ve had the best time! Congrats!

  33. Traci 03.26.2012

    You sound exactly like me! I would feel just like that. But you made it through! I’m jealous though. Curtis Stone is HOT!
    :) Love the pizza!!

  34. Kate 03.26.2012

    You really don’t look nervous up there! I’d say you hid it pretty well. That’s pretty terrifying for sure.

  35. Rika 03.26.2012

    I am reading this at work…had to shut my office door, so funny! shhhh….don’t tell anyone!
    What an amzing experience!
    Keep up the amazing blog…LOVE IT!
    P.S. made the Granola Bars the other day….to die for! I ate half the pan in one day…YUM!
    Finally a recipe that works! My kids loved them too!

  36. Becky 03.26.2012

    That was AWESOME to read! I <3 Curtis Stone! I am so jealous–er–happy for you! :-) And I was tearing up–how sweet is your mom! I hope I am this great of mom to my daughter! The pizza looks DELICIOUS! Pinning it & going to try to make my own pizza crust, look out Pillsbury! Thanks for the great post!

  37. Jaime D. 03.26.2012

    AMAZING. I’m so happy that you got to cook with Curtis! He is rather easy on the eyes. :) Great post too, my heart was beating super fast just reading through it!

  38. hahaha I absolutely loved this post. That is easily my worst nightmare as well but Curtis is ADORABLE and that looked like such a cool experience!

  39. Curtis is the sweetest. My mom and I also met him at the Food & Wine Festival in DSM a few years back. I treasure that photo I have with him to this day!

  40. […]  My sister met Curtis Stone. And danced with him! […]

  41. Oh my gooooodness!!! I would have DIED for SO many reasons! GOOD FOR YOU! Seriously, as a secret introvert myself, I’m proud of you. I would have killed and hugged my mom at the same time!

  42. Tracy 03.26.2012

    Ahhh!! Huge Curtis Stone fan here! You’re a lucky girl!

    Where did you get your cute dress? (I’m dress shopping today!)

  43. Mollie 03.26.2012

    What a fun opportunity! Good memories!

  44. A-freaking-mazing!!!!! That’s SO awesome! What an awesome opportunity, and your mama rocks!

  45. *Andrea* 03.26.2012

    so cool!!!! of all people, you totally deserved that :)

  46. Melissa 03.26.2012

    My husband wears Yves. YUM!

  47. Adrian Stinson 03.26.2012

    O.M.G!!!! I smiled the whole time I read this! I am SO jealous! I have had a HUGE crush on him for years. He is just so divine! How amazing that you got picked. Did you tell him about your blog?! I bet he would be most impressed! Then he could tell TLC to give you your own show!!! :)

  48. Em 03.26.2012

    THIS IS MY FAVORITE POST you’ve ever had.
    :) :) :)

    Congrats on such a happy weekend. And what a blessing to have such an awesome, supportive momma. :) Moms are great!

  49. Renee 03.26.2012

    Kristin – I’ve followed your blog for a while. This is so awesome! Curtis Stone wow!

  50. i know you probably think i’m a total creeper because i’ve told you like 5 times already how jealous i am of your curtis stone interaction and how super obsessed i am with him. i loved reading your story and seeing these pictures. i may make this pizza in curtis’ honor.

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