Exclusive Q&A with Curtis Stone

World-famous Aussie chef and TV host, Curtis Stone, has just opened his own restaurant in Los Angeles called Maude. LifeStyle FOOD chats to Curtis about this exciting new venture, his inspiration in the kitchen, home-cooking tips and much more!

Maude is more than just a restaurant for Curtis Stone. It’s most importantly the name of his beloved grandmother who took him into the kitchen as a four-year-old to help make her prized Yorkshire fudge—a memory more than three decades old that still lingers. It’s the dream harbored and honed during the earnest years-long climb through cooking school in Australia, the kitchen brigades of London and the culinary world beyond.

“Maude is the culmination of all my life and career experiences. I love restaurants and I thrive in them, and from as early as I can remember it’s always been my dream to open my own. To be able to do so in LA where I’m raising my family makes this all the more special,” says Stone. 

The 25-seat restaurant located in Beverly Hills marks Stone’s return to his roots as a chef in the professional kitchen.  We sat down with Curtis to find out more! 

Congratulations on your new restaurant opening in LA. Please tell us all about it!

Thanks! It really is so exciting and pretty nerve-wracking too. I mean, it’s every chef’s dream to have a small 25-seat, seasonally driven restaurant, right? Well it’s definitely been my goal for a while now!! I’m feeling pretty lucky to see it all come together and be back in the kitchen cooking every night.  I chose a tiny space on South Beverly Drive, as I want people to feel like they’re coming into my home for a really special, super intimate experience. We offer a monthly nine course tasting menu inspired by a highly seasonal key ingredient and this hero ingredient is threaded through the menu from first bites right through to desserts. This concept keeps my chefs and I on our toes and demands us to be really, super creative with the ingredient. We’ve also got a pretty delicious wine pairing option to complement the food too! Come on in!!!!

What other exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

Maude is like my second baby after Hud, so my hands are pretty full working in the restaurant everyday however, I’m also working on my cookware ranges and I’m in the throes of writing and developing recipes for my new cookbook. My team and I are full of ideas and have been working feverishly to bring them to life. Watch this space, there’s a lot on the boil….

Who is your inspiration in the kitchen?

There are so many amazing chefs around the world and I've been lucky enough to get to work with a few of them, including Marco Pierre White. That being said, my biggest inspiration isn't one particular chef. I’m inspired daily by Mother Nature and the bounty of beautiful ingredients she calls up every season.  

What is your favourite comfort food?

It changes, you know, it depends where I am. If I'm in Australia, it's my mum's roast lamb. ... As soon as I think of comfort food, I think of my mum. She makes these incredible whole-wheat oatmeal cookies, which is a strange comfort food, right?

Then, if I was in England, because I lived in England for eight years, it'd be Toads in the Hole. They used to make a Yorkshire pudding mixture ... and then they fill a tray with it. They put a lot of sausages in the tray, bake it in the oven so it rises, then there's all these sausages poking up. Yum!!!

What are your top tips for busy home cooks?

Where do I begin? My latest cookbook What’s For Dinner? is dedicated to getting a good homemade dinner on the table every night of the week. I’m a huge believer in the idea that when you start the week off right, you’re more likely to end it better as well. So I think it is key to get organised on a Sunday, or pick a day that best suits your schedule, and get sorted on that day. Write a meal plan and shopping list, and if you know you’ve got a really busy week on the cards, make a couple of meals ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. It does take time and effort to organise a meal plan and bring it to life but a home-cooked meal is always worth the effort. Food simply tastes better – and is better for you – when you cook it yourself.

Where are your favourite places to dine out in Australia?

There are so many great places from casual right through to high-end experiences. My list is long! One of my favourite restaurants right now is Tonka. It’s a great example of how so many young chefs in Oz are pushing the boundaries with fusion cuisine, in this case it’s Indian meets Asian.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?  

Miami. I love that city. I love the water, it's so great with the beautiful beaches, and it's great for scuba diving. You can do so many different things there. You travel about 20 minutes, and you're in the swampland. Or you go the other way and find all these beautiful caves. I also love the atmosphere. There's a very South American feel to it. And the food is delicious!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

That’s a difficult one! The best cooking advice I’ve ever received was to cook what you love to eat. When you follow your palate you bring passion to the food. I guess that’s why I’m a chef. I love so many different foods.

For more information about Maude,  visit www.mauderestaurant.com.

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