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On the Road Again With Chef Curtis Stone
by C California Style
Maude’s chef pays tribute to California wine country with his just-launched Central Coast-inspired summer menu
After rebooting his Beverly Hills restaurant, Maude, with a reimagined concept—changing the format from a monthly, single-ingredient-themed tasting menu to a seasonal one built around exceptional wines from a specific region—chef Curtis Stone kicked off 2018 with a Rioja, Spain-devoted prix fixe. Stone took C along his Spanish expedition, sharing his muses behind the innovative menu, from the local butcher shops and restaurants to the region’s historic wineries.
Now, after dedicating the spring season to Burgundy, Stone and his team—including executive chef Justin Hilbert, head sommelier Andrey Tolmachyov and Maude’s director of restaurant operations, Ben Aviram—are shifting their focus to California, offering a set 10-course meal inspired by the Central Coast for the summer (through September).
Anchored by seafood, the menu pairs such delicacies as mussel custard, oyster bread, and a play on surf and turf with wagyu and uni, with wines from both under-the-radar producers and forerunning masters like Ridge Vineyards and Liquid Farm.
Here, Stone narrates the highlights from his recent Central Coast road trip—from Santa Barbara to Monterey—which influenced Maude’s culinary ode to California, introducing us to some of the purveyors he encountered along the way. 212 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-859-3418; mauderestaurant.com.
Written by ANUSH BENLIYAN.
The bar is set high when day one of the trip ends with a sunset ride on horseback through Los Olivos. Yippee ki-yay.
Neal Maloney of Morro Bay Oyster Company took us out to his pristine aquafarm where executive chef Justin Hilbert got in the nutrient-rich water among the lines. A resident sea otter named Oscar was there to greet us.
These Pacific Gold oysters are perfection. Neal works with the upwelling of the tide that chips away at the shell, creating a deep cup and a luscious oyster. I prefer smaller varieties of oysters and these beauties start the Central Coast menu off with a raw sampling that we refer to as “Straight from the Sea.”
California Gold, baby. So good, we decided to feature uni twice on our Central Coast menu: as part of the raw experience, and later with an unctuous serving of wagyu beef loin.
Stephanie Mutz is the only female uni diver in the state. Stephanie greeted Justin and me on the dock in Santa Barbara with a sampling of her day’s haul.
Jack and Michelle Rudolph own and operate Stepladder Creamery in Cambria. On their bucolic setting of citrus orchards and avocado groves, the couple raises cows, pigs and goats. Their ash-coated blend of cow’s and goat’s milk dubbed “Big Sur” is featured in our cheese course.
Toasting our forthcoming Central Coast menu at Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino with Paul Draper, who has been at the helm of Ridge for nearly 50 years. He is one of the California wine icons who helped put the region on the map. This lunch was one for the books; Along with executive chef Justin Hilbert, head sommelier Andrey Tolmachyov and Maude’s director of operations, Ben Aviram, we opened and tasted through some of Paul’s remarkable cabernets, chardonnays and zinfandels up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Have binchotan, will travel. With a small hibachi and some incredible Japanese charcoal in the trunk, Justin and I got our hands on some beautiful shellfish, organic produce and seaweed during the week. Here we improvised a “picnic” lunch of grilled abalone, dulse and chardonnay. The dish has since been fine-tuned and is part of the Maude menu.
It doesn’t get more picturesque and serene than this. We feel so lucky to have met and spent time with so many of the region’s incredible purveyors. With California’s biggest asset—its ingredients—as our inspiration, we’ve done our best to recreate our Central Coast experience in Los Angeles!