Rioja is the first of four wine region-inspired menus the restaurant plans to roll out this year
Since opening in February 2014, Curtis Stone's 24-seat Beverly Hills restaurant Maude has become known for its revolving menu, which the kitchen would remake anew each month around a newly chosen ingredient. Until now. Deciding that the "creative treadmill" had become too much of a routine, Maude is shifting to a new concept: four menus per year, each inspired by a different renowned wine region. The first of which, Maude announced today, will be Rioja, Spain.
"Rioja had a lot of inspiration to offer, from groundbreaking art and architecture alongside 60-year old vintages that are still drinkable," says Stone, who got married in Spain. Joined by executive chef Justin Hilbert and director of operations and wine Ben Aviram, Stone recently returned from an extensive Rioja research trip, in which the Maude team visited a range of winemakers at bodegas, checked out local purveyors and embarked on an exploration of the culture and history of the region.
The change will give free rein to Hilbert, who has been leading Maude since Stone opened his second restaurant, Gwen, last year, to create a menu structure and dishes that are either literal to the region, or more generally inspired by the wines, flavors or ingredients he found during his time in Rioja. There, he met the region's farmers, sampled its tapas bar specialties and cooked with everyone from local home chefs to Michelin-starred restaurant kitchens.
Of course, the wine region inspiration will manifest in another way as well: the wines themselves. Rioja, says Aviram, is "one of the major wine regions in the world and yet, it’s not as widely understood as some of the more established regions." He adds that Maude's Rioja wine selection will highlight both "the authentic multi-generational wines," and a younger generation of innovators experimenting with techniques like that include adding forgotten varietals of white, rose, and sparkling wines. So get ready—the Rioja menu begins in 2018, and reservations and booking details will be announced in the coming weeks.