Curtis Stone may have been born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and trained in London, but these days he calls California home.
After he moved to Los Angeles, Curtis opened his first restaurant, Maude, in Beverly Hills in 2014, naming it after his grandmother, who he says taught him everything he knows in the kitchen. Serving up a tasting menu in a tiny (24-seat) restaurant has been a continuing and evolving part of Curtis’ repertoire. He followed up his success by collaborating with his brother Luke in the opening of the Gwen Butcher’s Shop and Restaurant in Hollywood.
Now Curtis is drawing inspiration for Maude’s menu from wine regions around the world. He and his team have been to Rioja in Spain, Burgundy in France, and most recently to California’s Central Coast to explore the produce and wine that make this part of the world unique.
We followed him on his culinary journey discovering the best Central Coast produce and more fun experiences along the way.
When Curtis Stone decided to showcase Central Coast wines at Maude, his 24-seat Beverly Hills hotspot, he knew he had to conduct some serious hands-on research. In other words: road trip! Stone...
Curtis Stone's Central Coast
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.
Even though Curtis Stone has been a chef since the age of 18, he decided to wait for 20 years to open up his first restaurant. In the interim he was quite busy, though—he cooked at some of London’s envelope-pushing restaurants, and has a laundry list of television credits, including The Celebrity Apprentice, Iron Chef America, Top Chef, and Take Home Chef.
But in February 2014, Chef Stone decided to take the plunge and open Maude in Beverly Hills. Named after his “dear granny,” for its first four years Maude featured a monthly ingredient-inspired menu, with each menu built around a star seasonal ingredient. Numerous awards and accolades soon followed, from the James Beard Foundation, Travel + Leisure, and LA Weekly. (In 2016, he opened a European-style butcher shop/restaurant with his brother Luke, named after their other granny, Gwen.)
In 2018, Stone shifted Maude’s approach to one that serves quarterly seasonal menus, each one celebrating a different leading wine region of the world. Menu muses include destinations such as Rioja, Spain; Burgundy, France; and California’s Central Coast. Executing this concept is quite involved: The core team travels to the selected destination to immerse itself in not just the cuisine and wine, but also the culture and history. Upon returning, a 10-course degustation menu is created drawing from the experience. Three months later, the team moves on to the next adventure and the next menu.
Dining at Maude is an intimate experience, to say the least, as the “tiny little restaurant” (as dubbed by Chef Stone) seats 24 guests at a time. And the “menu-less” format adds a stirring element of drama and surprise. So here’s your Maude-In-Three-Steps cheat sheet: 1) Make reservations well in advance, 2) Be prepared to put your trust into the hands of the chef, and 3) Enjoy.
Curtis Stone and his brother Luke both began their culinary careers in an Australian butcher shop, so it makes sense that their joint venture, Gwen, is a meat-focused entity. Named after their maternal grandmother who lived on a farm near Melbourne, Gwen features a full-service butcher shop alongside a fine-dining restaurant that offers Wagyu beef, Kurobuta pork, and other carnivores’ delights.
“The glassed-in counter could double as a museum of steaks,” wrote Jonathan Gold, the late, lamented Los Angeles Times food critic who gave Gwen a rave review. “Well-marbled tomahawks from Creekstone Farms in Kansas, pastured slabs of impossible-to-find rib-eye cap from Napa's renowned Five Dot Ranch and, most significantly, the spectacular, breathtakingly expensive Wagyu from Australia's Blackmore Farms, which the Stone brothers like so much that they set up an import company just so they could get the steaks in Los Angeles.”
A massive, magnificent fire pit is the focal point of the room and serves as the undeniable hub of culinary activity. But Curtis, a veteran of Top Chef Masters, Take Home Chef, and many other cooking shows, is hardly a one-trick pony. He trained in London with Michelin-star chef Marco Pierre White and knows his way around every corner of the kitchen.
His team dishes out seasonal sides that range from creamed leeks to roasted carrots to inventive plates inspired by the nearby Hollywood Farmers’ Market. Reservations are strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcome too—you may even land a coveted spot at the chef’s counter where you can watch the culinary crew cook for you all night.