Curtis Stone has spent a lot of time in American home kitchens.
For two years, the now-famous Australian chef would ambush female grocery shoppers and offer to cook dinner for their family that night with the ingredients in the cart. That was the format for his former TLC show, "Take Home Chef."
Now Stone, 37, has turned his experience with those harried home cooks into his latest cookbook, "What's for Dinner? Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life," (Ballantine Books $35, 320 pages).
Stone is not just on television because of his surfer good looks. He trained in London under Marco Pierre White, the youngest British chef to earn three Michelin stars. But American audiences know Stone from TV. Since "Take Home Chef," Stone has appeared on everything from "Celebrity Apprentice" to "Around the World in 80 Plates" and "Top Chef Masters," which will air a fifth season this summer.
In a phone interview last week, Stone talked about his new cookbook and how becoming a father has changed his cooking. "Take Home Chef" was a "wild introduction to America and domestic kitchens," he said. He saw firsthand how people struggle with the daily challenge of getting dinner on the table.
"The more I speak to people, the more I understand everybody's life is so out of control," Stone said. "I tried to categorize the challenges we faced on a daily basis and put together a collection of recipes that hit those challenges."
The book is divided into chapters for each day of the week. The "Motivating Mondays" chapter offers healthy recipes to counteract the indulgences of the weekend. That's followed by "Time-Saving Tuesdays," "One-Pot Wednesdays" and "Five-Ingredient Fridays."
Stone and his fiancee, American actress Lindsay Price, are parents of a 17-month-old son named Hudson. Becoming a parent, Stone said, has introduced him to the time pressures of cooking for a family.
"It takes me a lot longer to get breakfast together, of course," he said. "When I'm cooking eggs, I have to have him on my hip."
Stone said he and his son get in the kitchen every morning. When Hudson was smaller, Stone would sit him in the sink. Now, he said, his son perches on the kitchen counter and loves to help juice the fruit or crack the eggs. The father-and-son ritual caused a problem recently when the family tried to dye Easter eggs -- his son kept trying to crack the eggs instead.
Cooking for his son, Stone added, made him rethink ingredients he thought he knew. When his son first starting eating fruit and vegetable purees, Stone said he couldn't use the salt and sugar that chefs rely upon to make food tasty.
"In that way, it was quite powerful," Stone said. "You start to think about raw ingredients again. You want to do the best by your kids -- have it be super nutritious and as healthy as it can be."