Can't get a reservation at Maude, chef Curtis Stone's 25-seat Beverly Hills restaurant that we named the Best New Restaurant of 2014? No worries. Buy a seven-day cruise to Hawaii instead.
Starting in December, if you want to eat at Stone's latest restaurant, you'll have to board a massive passenger cruise ship as it sets sail from Los Angeles into the Pacific Ocean. Before the celebrity chef opens his highly anticipated second L.A. venture in the old Mercantile space in Hollywood, he will open four eateries as part of an exclusive partnership with Princess Cruises.
The restaurants, called Share by Curtis Stone, are being installed on four of Princess' ships, starting with two based in the United States by the end of the year and two more (including one based in his homeland of Australia) in early 2016. Share's menu will consist of a dozen or so small plates meant for, yes, sharing.
Images of the interior (revealed at a recent media tasting) show that each location will feature a communal table, along with mismatched plates and antiques-inspired decor. As of now, dishes include beef cheek pie, truffle-topped potato gratin and butter-poached lobster.
How does the Aussie-bred TV personality — who only recently made a name for himself as an ingredient-driven chef who at Maude often uses vegetables from his own garden — plan to maintain quality and integrity in a kitchen that's floating hundreds of mlles offshore? As with other successful cruise-ship restaurants with famous names attached to them (see: Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa's sushi bars on Crystal Cruises and James Beard Award winner Michael Schwartz's partnership with Royal Caribbean), Stone says it will take a combination of proper training and selective sourcing.
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"Of course I asked myself, 'How am I going to get the right product?' Because without the right product, how can you do the right job?" Stone says. "And I've been blown away with how incredible [Princess Cruises'] sourcing is. You can imagine what a logistical challenge it must be — all the different ports you pick up from and all the different farms you'd have to deal with. But they do source incredible ingredients from vendors in different parts of the world. Bizarrely, we have a few shared purveyors, which I never would have thought."
As for the training, chefs from Maude are getting involved with the project, acting as the core team around which Princess' corporate culinary team members will be placed. Maude's sous chef and pastry chef are already beginning to train the on-board executive chefs as they develop recipes together, and Stone says they're in the process of selecting kitchen crews that are up to his standards.
In addition to the four Share by Curtis Stone restaurants being placed on select ships, Princess is rolling out dishes designed by Stone in the main dining rooms of all its ocean liners, plus offering a chef's table experience, also designed by Stone, which will be prepared by the ship's executive chef.
"When [Princess] and I first started talking, I started thinking to myself: food and travel — they're my two loves," Stone says. "And what they want to promote is exactly what I love. They want to talk about freshness. They want to talk about quality ingredients. They want to offer an elevated experience from start to finish. It's a bit of a dream, to be honest."