Curtis is one of twelve celebrity tastemakers who have partnered with Beverly Hills to launch its Definition of Luxury campaign, including a published book, reinforcing the city as the leading destination of luxury. Here he mentions, just why he thinks Beverly Hills, California’s capital of glamour, is so special.
You have partnered with Beverly Hills to launch its Definition of Luxury campaign. Tell us about your life in Beverly Hills.
Look, I’m a pretty laid-back guy kind of guy – I’m an Aussie after all. As I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve learnt to appreciate life’s little luxuries like spending time around the dinner table with my family and enjoying a well-prepared meal. It’s a simple thing, but family and food are everything to me, so I really don’t take them for granted. My schedule is pretty busy, so to me, having some time to just chill out and enjoy myself is a real luxury, too. And when it does come time to splurge a little, I make sure it’s on the things that make me really happy like taking a nice holiday with my friends and family, or taking my wife out to a restaurant we’ve been dying to try.
At your restaurant, Maude, a different seasonal ingredient is featured each month. How does Beverly Hills have an influence over what you select?
We choose a single hero ingredient to star in each course of the degustation, sometimes starring in a prominent role and at other times, playing a subtler role. We plan out the hero ingredient calendar at the start of each year, and to be honest, this year we are featuring ingredients as humble as the carrot and potato, all the way through to the exquisite white and black truffle. We like to be playful with our menus and surprise and delight people with how many ways you can make a simple ingredient delicious and unique, and demonstrate just how far you can elevate it with technique. Having a restaurant in California is a chef’s dream as we have access to some of the best fresh produce in the world. When selecting our hero ingredients, we look to what is locally available to us and what reflects the very best of California produce.
What are the top luxury destinations in the world and how does it compare to benchmarks set in Beverly Hills?
Beverly Hills is world-renowned for luxury. Luxury exudes from every corner of the city – from the top restaurants and hotels, the old Hollywood-style piano bars, red carpet events and the A-list celebrities who live here or often visit the city. The high fashion and shopping on Rodeo drive, the Spanish villas and impressive homes, and the cleanliness of the palm tree-lined streets and well-kept gardens all set the bar.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the globe with my job and I’ve worked in some of the most exciting cities on the planet, including New York City, London, Sydney, Dubai, Shanghai and Hong Kong. While these cities are known for their hustle and bustle, Beverly Hills sets a much calmer, more personal pace, yet everything you could ever want is still at your fingertips.
Locally sourced foods are mainstays within restaurants. Which go-to shops in Beverly Hills do you frequent when cooking for your restaurant Maude and for yourself?
My chefs and I are constantly running up to The Beverly Hills Cheese Store, run by Norbert Wabnig, to select beautiful, interesting cheeses for our cheese course. At Maude, we change our 9+ course menu every month, so it really pushes us to be creative – and it means Norbert is forever introducing us to cheeses from all over the world that we haven’t tried before. He exudes an old-school charm and hospitality that Beverly Hills in known for; he’s a real character! The pungent aroma when you walk in the door of the store hits you right in the nose; I love it! Of course, while I’m looking for cheese for the restaurant, I end up coming home with a wheel of this and a block of that for home too.
Where is your favourite place in Beverly Hills?
My wife and I love a date night at Urasawa. You basically have to sell something before you can pull up a seat at the sushi bar here, but it’s well worth every penny. The space is intimate and exclusive with approximately 10 seats, and head chef Hiroyuki Urasawa is a true master of his craft; an exquisite dining experience.
How has the digital and social world affected the culinary experience?
We can show online communities what’s going on in the test kitchen and offer them a deeper introduction to our team members. We can talk about the process of what we are doing, so when you’re anticipating coming to a great restaurant, and you go and check out their social media, you can learn something about the culture of the team, you can learn something about the way the food is prepared. You can involve your customers to make them feel more like a part of the experience before they have even stepped in the door.
Not only can we put out the information and content that’d we’d like the world to see, but guests are an integral part of our online community – posting images of dishes real time to Instagram, rating our restaurant on Yelp the next day, leaving a comment on Facebook about their experience. When our guests engage with our restaurant online, it introduces our intimate, little restaurant on South Beverly Drive to their expansive online networks, too. It’s a very powerful marketing tool for us.
About Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is one of the world’s most sought-after locales. Centrally located in greater Los Angeles, Beverly Hills is a premier holiday and business travel destination, with beautiful weather year-round, acclaimed full-service and boutique hotel accommodations, superb dining, and unrivalled shopping. Synonymous with Hollywood glamour, Beverly Hills enjoys an international reputation as the home and playground of A-list movie stars. The city is not only known worldwide for its grand mansions and chic shops along Rodeo Drive, but also for its multitude of art and architecture, spas and salons, and exceptional walkability.