For the past four years, Curtis Stone's restaurant Maude has been playing an impressive game: Each month, a new ingredient is chosen and the restaurant's entire 10-course tasting menu is built around that one seasonal ingredient. At this point, there have been around 50 featured ingredients, and 50 different menus. But as Eater reported a few weeks back, that format will change early next year. The ingredient-a-month game is over.
"It's been so much fun to do, and we've really enjoyed it," Stone told me recently. "But it started to feel a little tired." He also admits that with 50 ingredients already used, he and his team were beginning to struggle to come up with items that might be able to carry an entire menu. For instance, in October they'd planned to execute a menu built around persimmons. "But persimmons was going to be really difficult," Stone says.
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Instead, he and executive chef Justin Hilbert have decided to create a "greatest hits" menu for October, serving favorite dishes picked from all of those past menus. Over the next few weeks, the Maude team will begin to cull through the hundreds of dishes they've served over the years and decide which were the best. They've also asked for the input of some of their most devoted customers. Some dishes, Stone admits, won't be viable in October due to issues of seasonality. (For instance, one of my favorite Maude dishes of all time was an amuse from the pea menu, a tiny rabbit pie topped with a froth of vibrant green pea foam, which would be impossible to re-create in the fall.) But, Stone says, "With 50 menus we have plenty to choose from."
After the greatest-hits menu in October, Maude will serve a white truffle menu in November and a black truffle menu in December, as it has done for the past few years. The restaurant will close briefly at the end of the year, and 2018 will usher in the new format, whatever that format might be. "We still haven't figured it out 100 percent," Stone says. "I want it to be really dynamic, and we'll still put some parameters around it, I think. I want it to be just as challenging for us. When I first conceived of Maude, a lot of my thinking was about, 'How can we keep ourselves on our toes?' I want to keep that element in place."
Tickets for Maude's greatest-hits menu will go on sale on the restaurant's website on Friday, Sept. 1, at 10 a.m.