Gareth Curtis

This jewel box of a restaurant on South Beverly opens tomorrow

“I’m like a little kid, and it’s Christmas Eve, ” says Curtis Stone, giddy on the day before he opens his first restaurant, Maude. Named for his grandmother, and the woman who instilled in Stone a love for food, Maude was also inspired by the chef’s seasonal approach to cooking.

What most people don’t know is that before he became a famous face on TV, Curtis Stone cooked with Marco Pierre White for many years and earned a Michelin star during his time at the well-regarded London restaurant Quo Vadis. The famously outspoken White recently defended critics who called Stone a “sell-out.” Those same critics are still sniffing around and whispering that this is a “vanity project” for chef Stone. But if it was, wonder his supporters, wouldn’t he have opened a 200-seat restaurant in Las Vegas and put his own name on it, in big, bold letters?

Instead, Maude is a tiny jewel box of a restaurant designed by Bishop Pass (Gjelina Take Away, The Parish, Abigaile) with banquettes lined in teal blue leather and a modern mix of marble-topped tables and mid-century chairs. Dishes come out on mismatched china that looks as if it came out of your grandmother’s cabinet. The kitchen is tucked into a corner near the rear, but it’s completely open. Every cook has a clear view of the entire 25-seat dining room, and the front door is not more than 20 feet away from the hot line.

Each month, Stone and his team of eight (including former Bouchon sous chef Andrew Phillips, Gareth Evans from Gordon Ramsay New York, and Clement Gosch from Melisse) pick a seasonal element and use it as a springboard for a nine-course tasting menu. The current theme is citrus. Bernard Ranch is supplying Cara Cara oranges and Oro Blanco. Finger limes and mandarins are coming from Mud Creek Ranch in Santa Paula, and satsumas and blood oranges from Regier Farm. For $75 per person, that gets you dishes like carrot soup with smoked parsnip, orange, and Serrano ham; a chicken terrine with pain perdu and mustard ice cream; and lemon curd with yuzu sorbet and hempseed cookies.

The project may sound small, but it’s ambitious. So we sat down with Curtis Stone who is—between being a husband (sorry, ladies) and father—a very busy man, to talk about life in L.A. and fulfilling a dream.

How’s it going?
I mean, it’s exciting, but I’m full of nervous anticipation. We’ve just made beef stock, and sure I’ve made beef stock dozens of times before, but there was a moment when I thought, ‘is it going to come out right?’ Thank god—it did!

How long have you been based in L.A.?
About eight years now. My wife and I have a two-year-old son who was born here, and we’re very settled here. I’m lucky that I get to go to Australia to visit family, but I’d say I spend 80 percent of my time in L.A.

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