NEW YORK (Reuters) - Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone showcases the culinary skills he learned in Michelin-star eateries in Europe in his first restaurant Maude, a 25-seat, high-concept venture in Beverly Hills.
Critics have praised Maude for its tasting menu inspired by a single ingredient, which changes monthly. In July, he featured berries, corn in August and in September, it will be tomatoes.
While he was preparing for the opening of the restaurant in February, Stone, 38, hosted "Top Chef Duels," a spinoff of the popular U.S. competition show which will debut on Wednesday.
The Melbourne native spoke to Reuters about his restaurant named after his grandmother and his desire to return to the kitchen.
Q: What can diners expect from Maude?
A: The experience is a real progression, starting off really nice and light and you gradually get richer. While relatively eclectic, it’s very rooted in a European style.
Q: Why attempt a small, high-end restaurant in Beverly Hills instead of a mega enterprise in Las Vegas?
A: For me it’s a personal choice. I prefer to eat at small restaurants. It’s not all about the money. Yes, I would have made more money if I had done a big splashy restaurant in Vegas.
Q: Were you worried since you hadn’t cooked inside a restaurant kitchen for over seven years?
A: That was one of big challenges for us. To be honest, that was one of the things I least look forward to. You have people who want to judge you before they come in. But if you are proud of what you offer and are happy with the restaurant you are operating, you can’t worry what people say or do around it.
Q: Why open a restaurant when you have a thriving television career and another child on the way?
A: It’s either in your blood or not ... I really missed it. There was a part of my creativity that was not fulfilled.
Q: You named your restaurant after your grandmother. Do you think she would be proud?
A: She was a sweet, sweet woman. The first time I ever did a book signing, she rang up her friends from church because she didn’t think anyone would show up. I’m sure she’s looking down smiling.
Stuffed Butter-Poached Morels (12 canapes or 4 as a starter)
8 ounces unsalted butter
12 fresh morel mushrooms plus 2-1/2 ounces sliced (for puree), thoroughly rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons shallot
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream + 2 tablespoons (for chicken mousse)
4 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
1 large egg
Poach morels: In a medium heavy saucepan, bring 2 tablespoons of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time to emulsify. Season with salt. Add morels and cover with a cartouche. Poach for 7 minutes or until the morels are tender. Set aside.
Mushroom puree: In a medium heavy sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine. Stir until reduced. Add cream, bring to a boil, and cook for about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. Season with salt.
Chicken mousse: In the small food processor, blend chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt until finely chopped. Blend in 2 tablespoons of beaten egg. Process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the cream and process until smooth and fluffy. Press the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve.
Fold the chicken mousse into the mushroom puree. Transfer it into a small piping bag. Pipe it into each poached morel. Steam the stuffed morels for about 3 minutes, or until the mousse is just cooked through.
Note: At Maude, Stone places it atop a risotto dish which can be found on his website www.curtisstone.com
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Marguerita Choy)