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Take A Peek Inside Maude, Celeb Chef Curtis Stone's First Restaurant

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Curtis Stone is undoubtedly one of food TV's most famous faces. The Aussie chef has most recently been featured as a regular contributor on "The Chew" and as the host of "Top Chef Masters" (full disclosure: we judged on season 4 and were similarly wowed by his dreamy accent)." But for all of his appearances and cookbooks, he's never had his own restaurant to call home.

Of course, many people have speculated that he's just all good looks. His new restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills, which officially opens this Saturday, dispels that myth. The man can cook. The citrus tasting menu not only showcases Southern California's bountiful produce, but highlights an important influence on Stone's career: though he might not have been slaving away in restaurant kitchens, he has been exposed to some of the best minds in the industry through shows like "Masters" and "Around The World in 80 Plates," and his palate is incredibly inspired by all of the world travels his career has afforded him.

The celeb chef's new 25-seater is named after his grandmother, and the set tasting menu is based off a singular seasonal ingredient. It's cozy and welcoming, with unique midcentury modern and antique touches all around. (Bishop Pass, who did Gjelina Takeaway, Laurel Hardware, and Andaz in Napa are responsible for the eclectic design.)

For the first month, the theme is winter citrus. We sat down to talk with Stone about the concept and how he feels being back in the kitchen.

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LAist: Congrats on the opening. I'm mesmerized by how you manage to have your eyes open considering all that's on your plate. How do you plan to manage your time between all the shooting, cooking, and traveling, and now opening a new restaurant?

Curtis Stone: I've really pulled back from the travel recently...and I'm not sure what's going to be going on with "Masters." Being a new dad, it was tough being away so much. It's an odd move to go back to the kitchen. I'm super happy behind the stove. I've always done this; I can't imagine doing something else. Whether I'm in the test kitchen in West Hollywood or here, I've always done that. It's a tough business, but I've grown up with this sort of competitive sport.

That's so counterintuitive, to think that going back to cooking in a restaurant would give you more time. But considering your schedule beforehand, that makes sense. This has been a long time in the making, and you can really see a lot of love has gone into it. Can you talk a little about the concept and your inspiration for the space?

I started work with the question, "What's the best culinary experience you've ever had?" To me it always came back to some level of comfort and nostalgia. When I think about my best restaurant experiences, it's always when I sit down at one of my chef friends cooks for me. That's what we wanted to have here, where you're in the chef's hands, at their table ... I really wanted something to be sophisticated, but casual enough to not be stuffy. I wanted the food to be special and elevated in a relaxed environment. I'm a little sick of that 3.5 hour, sitting up straight frou frou dining. I wanted it to be thoughtful food but humble.

The restaurant is named after your grandma, Maude. What role did she play in your life growing up?

She was actually from the North of England, and they used to make this delicious fudge, really sugary. As a five year-old boy, she taught me how to make it. It's really what used to spark my interest in food. I always remember sitting around the dining room and smelling her getting the roast dinner ready. She's been gone now for seven or eight years now, but I wanted to call the restaurant after her to keep those memories alive.

It has to be a big challenge to change the entire menu every single month. How do you plan on streamlining that?

That's a really good question. If you think about it, it's 150 new dishes per year. I want to keep some kind of consistency to the menu structure. I want it to have handmade pasta on every menu. That doesn't change too much. The ingredients change, but they are primarily the same structure of dishes. It doesn't get totally get turned on it's ear. It's a challenge, and that's part of the excitement of it. We'll probably close one day and do friends and family to test things out, and do lots of family meals for practice the week before. How much of a challenge it's going to be, we really don't know.

Do you have citrus fatigue at this point? Or is it fun for you and the chefs on your team to really get to geek out on one ingredient and explore all the various applications it can have.

It's really educational. We spend so much time with the growers and farmers and asking questions like "What are the different varieties? What can we do with them?" Next month we're doing peas. So we think about what you can do with pea flowers. Or what you can do with pea tendrils.

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What's the appeal of opening in this part of L.A.?

It's a tiny restaurant, but we don't have to cater to all of America. I think there's enough people in this city that are interested in something different and something new. Essentially what we're asking people to do is pay a relatively high amount to let someone else be in control of your dinner. I really respect that our guests are doing that.

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