Curtis Stone takes his protein seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he'll soon open Gwen, a specialty butcher shop and fine-diner celebrating meat in all its glory.
"Having trained as a chef in Australia and Europe, I've been romanced by specialty butcher shops for as long as I can remember," says the Melbourne-raised chef. "We don't have anything like it in Los Angeles."
Since opening Maude in 2014, Stone has wowed critics with the tiny restaurant and its tight seasonal focus, even garnering a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant in the country. Like Maude, Gwen will have a fine-dining focus, but the menu will be driven by what's happening in the adjoining butcher shop.
"The heartbeat of the restaurant will be the butcher," says Stone. His brother Luke is a partner on the project. "We'll create dishes using those meats in every way we can - cured, over fire - whatever is going to make those proteins taste the best." Diners will eat at the bar or in the dining room, or drop by the shop for top-notch meat, poultry and charcuterie to take home.
Stone is staying tight-lipped on the menu specifics, but says there's been a research trip to Argentina, and he will likely offer a tasting menu. He also plans to source rare and heritage breeds such as Red Wattle and Mulefoot pork.
Brooklyn's Home Studios are taking care of the fit-out at the new site - a renovated 1920s building on Sunset. "It has the most incredible detail and charm," says Stone. "It's beautiful, sophisticated and ornate. We're really happy with how it's coming together."
While Maude was named after Stone's late paternal grandmother, Gwen takes its name from his maternal nan. "She spent her whole life on a farm in Victoria's Woodend," he says. "She grew produce, hunted, lived off the land and cooked for her family over an old wood-burning stove."
Gwen Specialty Butcher & Restaurant is slated to open between June and August 2016 at 6600 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, gwenLA.com