Curtis Stone pivots, transforming Maude into a sweet and savory pie shop
The last traditional meal served at Maude, Curtis Stone’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Beverly Hills, focused on his native Australia, with dishes such as pheasant paired with smoked sausage and spanner crab gelee with trout roe. It was March of last year and after a brief closure, Maude reemerged as Maude Marketplace, the space rebranded as an elegant corner store.
The shop was open for about three months but closed in late June, another casualty of the pandemic that has ravaged the restaurant industry.
On Feb. 8, Stone will reopen the space, once known for its elaborate tasting menus, as a casual pie shop and specialty foods store called Pie Room by Gwen. The sweet and savory bakery will serve fare inspired by Stone’s Australian roots and his years of cooking in London, where meat pies, handheld Cornish-style pasties and steamed dessert puddings sit behind pastry cases.
Working in tandem with Gwen, Stone’s Hollywood butcher shop and restaurant, the pie room will use specialty meats and trimmings for fillings like oxtail and pickled onion; lamb curry with cumin-spiced potatoes; rabbit with mustard and tarragon; and chicken with leeks. Pastry chef Amy Taylor will layer the butcher shop’s tallow, leaf lard and Wagyu fat into some of the crusts.
“The interesting part for me is just how varied they can be,” says Stone. Some of the pies will take hours to make; others require 2 ½ days for the brining and braising of the meat, and, finally, the baking.
“A savory pie, a meat pie, can be so different,” Stone says.
A Scottish-style pork pie is almost terrine-like, for instance, and is often served cold. The dense, meaty filling is topped by gelatinous stock poured through a hole in the top of the crust. In Australia and England, pork pies are typically enjoyed hot, with a savory stew at the center.
Other offerings will include hand pies with a traditional beef and stout filling and a less traditional version with beef Bolognese with smoked mozzarella; egg-and-cheddar breakfast pasties; French apple tarts and almond galettes; chutneys, relishes and a gourmet tomato sauce; and family-sized pies, imported snacks and pantry goods.
The offerings testify to a burgeoning savory pie scene in Los Angeles. U.K.-style pub Market Tavern and Aussie cafe Strings of Life opened in 2020 and Nicole Rucker’s Fat & Flour bakery secured a permanent space within Grand Central Market last year, all of them offering their own house-baked savory pies.
Stone hopes his new casual concept will make it possible to keep the space open if and until indoor dining can resume.
He sounds a little wistful when he talks about the possibility that Maude will never reopen.
“It’s a really frightening concept because a restaurant, especially one like Maude that’s so intimate, is just so personal,” Stone says. “Every single teacup and every little nook and cranny in that restaurant you either built by hand or you picked the tile, or you painted the wall, or you got the tea kettle from a flea market somewhere.
“Then, when you start imagining that closing-down process,” Stone continues, “you’re almost OK with it to the point where you’re like, ‘OK, so to close down, what do I do with it all? Do I pack it all into boxes and put it into storage? Do I bring it to my home? Do I do a yard sale?’ I know what I’d do with all the wine, but I don’t know what I’d do with all of everything else. And that’s very, very sad and very heartbreaking, and that’s kind of what drives you to be like, ‘No, screw that, it’s not happening. I’m going to figure out another way to do it.’”
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