Chandler Stephenson follows his father and impresses the Golden Knights teammates at the grill

After dinner at the Chandler Stephenson home, Golden Knights players typically ask for recipes for Curt’s Ribs and Caesar Salad as they walk out the door. The food is so good that some of his former teammates in Washington are still talking about it to this day.

Stephenson’s father Curt loves cooking and BBQ’s and has passed these skills on to his son who uses them to occasionally wow his teammates.

You must have Curt’s ribs.

“I don’t know what it is, but that’s what everyone who’s had the ribs says,” Chandler Stephenson said. “It’s just something he’s always done. The more he cooked them, the more perfect he made them.”

It all started with Curt Stephenson cooking for his son’s teammates early in his career. Former Capitals Nathan Walker and Riley Barber were particularly fond of the ribs. Now that Chandler is older and has a son of his own, he’s following in his father’s footsteps.

“Stevie’s a good cook,” said Zach Whitelcoud with a grin. “I think the best thing I got from him are his ribs. You are legitimate.”

Last season, when Whitecloud was off the team due to injury, he went to Chandler Stephenson’s for dinner.

“My girlfriend was in London on an exchange program, so I was alone for five months early last year,” Whitecloud recalls. “Not being with the team is really lonely.”

As the neighborly teammate he is, Chandler Stephenson invited him to dinner. He started the meal by making Whitecloud Caesar Salad from scratch at the table. He drizzled the giant salad bowl with olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and red wine vinegar, tossed in an egg yolk and chopped garlic before topping it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

“When I first had it, I think I ate a whole salad bowl by myself,” Whitecloud said. “It was amazing. So good.”

Whitecloud has the recipe and says it’s now a staple at his house. He even prepared it for a dinner party with his girlfriend’s parents and said it was a hit.

“It’s all Stevie,” he said.

Hockey players rarely seek individual recognition, instead deflecting the praise to teammates, and the same apparently applies to cooking. Whitecloud credits Chandler Stephenson, who credits his father, who credits an old cook he befriended in Saskatoon.

“I enjoy good food,” said Curt Stephenson. “How it all came about was there was a great guy back home called Peter Rizos who ran some pretty lavish, fine restaurants. I used to drop by there when I was younger and we became good friends. He started making little Caesar salads and things like that and I learned from him.”

Rizos, who has since passed away, ran restaurants in Saskatchewan and even published a cookbook called Dining With Peter Rizos. With his help, Curt developed his own homemade salad dressings, condiments and sauces.

Curt has always loved to grill, but Chandler wasn’t always the most willing student. He fondly remembers when Chandler was only 5 years old when the Stephensons invited neighbors to a lobster dinner.

It’s not easy getting fresh lobsters in Saskatoon, Sask., hundreds of miles out to sea on either side. Curt occasionally got an order through Rizos and brought home a shipment of live crustaceans.

“We had about a dozen lobsters in the saltwater pool because we only cooked them that night,” Curt recalled. “Chandler lifted them out of the water and they tried to pinch him. He thought she was pretty cool, but then he didn’t want to put her in hot water because he knew it was the end of her life.”

“We can’t do this, Dad!” exclaimed a young Chandler.

“But I told him that’s the way to cook them,” Curt said.

Decades later, Chandler loves the BBQ and it’s become a common ground for him and his father to enjoy together.

“It’s funny, let’s talk about that,” Chandler said. “I’ve never spoken to my dad about things like that, but the older you get and the more you cook, the more you need to talk about it.”

Chandler often calls his father before inviting people over to dinner to discuss the possible menu and brush up on recipes. Although none of this is specifically measured. Curt prefers to judge his proportions with his eyes.

Now, when he returns home for the off-season, it’s Chandler’s turn to cook.

“We’re going to be in the house having a beer and Chandler is going to be spinning ribs in the backyard and he’s going to be like, ‘Get outta here for a second,'” Curt said. “He takes a piece off, hands it to me and says, ‘Is that good? What do you think?’ He just wants it to be good.”

Chandler has perfected some of his father’s recipes and now passed some on to his Vegas teammates. In fact, Curt Stephenson’s cooking tree has branched out across the Golden Knights team.

“He gave me a chicken recipe that was nice,” said Brayden McNabb. “This is my new go-to for chicken thighs.”

Teammates love the Caesar salad and chicken, but the star of the show is the pork ribs. Curt said the most important part is cleaning the ribs by trimming off the membrane and excess fat.

“Preparation probably takes longer than cooking and eating,” Chandler said.

The recipe itself is pretty simple. Curt first rubs the ribs with his homemade seasoning, which includes onion powder, onion salt, garlic powder, garlic salt, and Lawry’s seasoning salt. He then grills them, beginning bone-side down. When they’re almost done, he glazes them with an oyster-based sauce, then slices them up, places them in a bowl, and tops them off with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a touch of oregano.

“You’re so good,” Whitecloud gushed. “They aren’t burned, but the edges are crispy. You have to have bark. Then the inside is tender.”

Las Vegas’ last two-game road trip to Nashville and Minnesota was the Golden Knights’ annual father’s trip. Curt and the other dads on the team accompanied their sons on the trip, spent time together off the rink and watched hockey as proud dads.

Chandler takes after his father in many ways.

“He’s certainly unique when it comes to food,” Chandler said of his father. “If there was an apocalypse my parents could survive 30 years because he has so much stuff. Hundreds of different types of chips. A large freezer and fridge in the back.”

However, the Stephensons are not preparing for the end of the world. Curt’s just a salt-of-the-earth junkyard worker from Saskatoon with an extraordinary sense of hospitality.

“If you came over and asked for a beer that he didn’t have, that’s the worst thing that could ever happen,” Chandler said, laughing. “He’ll go to the liquor store and get it, then it’s always there now. Anyone who has stopped by three times in their life always has their drink with them. He’s just that guy.”

Curt and his wife Bev tried to raise Chandler and his brother Colton with those values. He’s proudly watched as Chandler rose to an All-Star for the Golden Knights on the ice, but he’s equally proud of the man and father his son has grown into off the rink.

“I’ve always told my kids hockey is a small part of who you are,” Curt said. “It’s just a sport. You are a good person when you are a good person. For me that’s more important and he’s a good boy.”

(Photo by Chandler and Curt Stephenson courtesy of Curt Stephenson) Chandler Stephenson follows his father and impresses the Golden Knights teammates at the grill

Russell Falcon

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