Curtis Stone, chef at Maude in Beverly Hills, has just opened his second restaurant. But it's not the Beverly Hills project he's been working on with Chi Spacca alum Chad Colby. It's called Share and it's on board two Princess Cruises ships.
The Australian chef didn't agree to go from his tiny, hyper-seasonal L.A. restaurant to cruise ship partner right away.
"How could I do a restaurant on a ship?" asked Stone. "It doesn't make sense at all. But hearing more about their ability to change things around, it started to become more interesting.
"I look around today and they've done it." said Stone, sitting at one of the tables at Share on the Ruby Princess cruise ship docked at the San Pedro harbor on Sunday, the restaurant's opening day. Under his feet were hardwood floors accented by striped carpet; chairs were covered in plush suede; and the decor looked appropriate for a sleek bachelor pad somewhere in Manhattan.
There is another Share restaurant on board the Emerald Princess and a third location is being developed on the Sun Princess, the line's ship in Australia.
Maude, which changes its menu every month, focuses on a single ingredient at a time. At Share, Curtis says that the sourcing and production is different, but he's still focusing on the ingredients.
"For the menu, we say where is the ship sailing from," said Stone. "What ingredients does that purveyor have? We reach out, we get samples and start there."
Stone credits the crew for figuring out the best way to transport certain ingredients to keep them fresh. For instance, tomatoes are kept in a climate-controlled area, in the dark.
"They're really good at getting the most out of what they get," said Stone of the cruise line. "It's our job to craft something that's not only delicious but really executable as well."
Christian Dortch, whom Stone pulled from the line at Maude, is overseeing the culinary operations at both Share locations as the corporate chef.
The restaurants will offer a menu that includes a choice of appetizer, main course, sides and dessert. At $39 per person, this is the least expensive Curtis Stone meal available; the tasting menu at Maude will set you back about $80, not including wine.
At Share, everything is made on the ship, including dishes such as tagliatelle pasta with Alaskan king crab; twice-cooked duck with bacon jus; and roast turbot white fish with a Gruyere crumb and white vermouth sauce.
Maude sommelier and General Manager Ben Aviram selected the wines featured on the menu at Share, where the price for a bottle of wine ranges from $28 to $96.
In terms of kitchen equipment, Stone says "the sky is the limit."
"The only thing that they haven't come good on — and only because it's impossible — is a lobster tank," said Stone, who also boasted that he's using Pacojets to make the restaurant's ice cream.
Stone also designed some dishes for the main dining rooms on the ships and trained some of the other chefs on board.
The Share restaurants are part of a $450-million effort by the cruise line to spruce up its fleet of ships. Also included in the revamp is the Salty Dog gastropub inside the Wheelhouse bar on the Ruby Princess (and other select ships), which partnered with Plan Check chef and partner Ernesto Uchimera.
Known for his burgers topped with ketchup leather and his own version of American cheese, Uchimura is making an Ernesto Burger on the boat, made with a freshly ground patty of rib-eye and short rib topped with grilled pork belly, Gruyere, caramelized kimchi, a beer-battered jalapeno, charred onion aioli and smoked salt and pepper on a brioche bun.
If you'd like a seat at either restaurant, at least for now, you'll have to book a cruise.
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