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California Questionnaire: Curtis Stone

The Australia native has planted his roots in Los Angeles, where he runs two acclaimed restaurants and lives the California dream

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Award-winning chef Curtis Stone was born in Melbourne, established his culinary chops in London, and rose to fame on TV, appearing on multiple cooking shows as well as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and NBC’s Today. He now expresses his lifelong passion for food at two highly regarded Los Angeles County restaurants.

Maude, a tasting menu-driven spot located in Beverly Hills, is named after Curtis’ paternal grandmother and pays homage to his first culinary mentor. Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant, in Hollywood, is also a family affair: Curtis opened this meat-centric fine dining establishment with his brother Luke and it is named after their maternal grandmother.

We asked this affable Aussie to take the California Questionnaire and he happily obliged.

Where do you live? Los Angeles.

Why there? Well, it wasn’t some grand plan, but I fell in love and married Lindsay and this is where we are raising our sons. I just lucked out that L.A. also has a vibrant food scene and it’s finally getting its day in the sun and recognition on a global level.

Who or what is your greatest California love? California’s ingredients. The state has so much to offer agriculturally. For a chef there is no greater reward than the incredible vegetables, fruit, nuts, wine, and livestock that can be found here. Often chefs see ingredients for the first time as they’re delivered at the backdoor of the restaurant, but you truly are able to cook effortlessly in California because there is continually a bounty of the season at the [various] farmers markets each week.

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? Probably that they’re all vapid and don’t take much seriously.

What is the stereotype that most holds true? There is an ease about Californians, everything from a hippie-ness to a surfy vibe, and that confidence and comfort often gets misconstrued.

What is your favorite Golden State splurge?  Uni and wine.

Time for a road trip—where are you going? From Los Angeles north to Mammoth, where the family likes to trek during the holidays to get in some skiing; south to Baja where I can surf and crack open a beer; east to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs where the desert reminds me of Central Australia; and west to the Pacific where I can put my feet in the sand and relax. We’ve got it all.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? Can I say “tacos”? They are my guiltiest of pleasures. I didn’t have solid Mexican food until I was well into my twenties, and up and down the state, a good taco can always be found—even breakfast tacos.

How do you define California style? Sophisticated comfort.

Best California song? Man, there are so many, but I’ll go with “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas. It’s an oldie but a goodie. As a boy growing up in Melbourne I had big dreams, which took me to Europe and eventually London, a city I adore but which can be quite dreary at times. So much of that song embodies the aspirations people carry with them in their lives. And the line, “I’d be safe and warm, if I was in LA” rings truer for me than it ever has, on multiple levels.

How would your California dream day unfold? Let’s assume I get time away from the restaurants where I feel so at home. I would keep it really simple: Coffee and brekkie with Linds and the boys, perhaps a dip in the pool or a swim in the ocean, bike rides, an easy hike, time in the vegetable garden to prepare dinner, and having the rest of the family over for a feast. That would be my perfect day.

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