Maude Squad

Curtis Stone gets back to his roots at his Beverly Hills restaurant

Curtis Stone stands over a hot grill putting the finishing sear on a piece of Snake River ribeye. Most of the diners in his 25-seat Beverly Hills restaurant crane to catch a peek of the television host and author, famous for his charming grin and Australian drawl.

Stone is more focused on the beef–as well as the other nine courses each guest will be served from the restaurant's elaborate tasting menu ($75).

Duck ravoili with finger lime beurre blanc

Maude–named for the chef's grandmother–may have a celebrity at the helm, but it is definitely not a "celebrity restaurant."

A meal at the intimate, homey space is a study on one particular ingredient each month. Our visit coincided with Maude's citrus season. A procession of elegant dishes arrived on mismatched china: oysters dotted with yuzu and caviar, ethereal lobster crudo with parsnip cream and meyer lemon, delicate carrot and parsnip soup served in a teacup and tender duck raviolo sauced with finger lime beurre blanc.

If you had any doubts, put them to rest. This guy can cook.

Curtis and his citrus salad

As dinner progresses, flavors build to a satisfying crescendo. The kitchen's proficiency with classic French cooking is apparent, but the vibrancy of each plate suggests something more modern and immediate.

"When I was a young chef [working under Marco Pierre White], we were all obsessed with technique and knife skill," says Stone. "Now I spend more time thinking about actual ingredients."

Next month's star is the artichoke. Stone plans to drive his crew up to Castroville, better known as the "Artichoke Capital of the World," for a research trip.

It seems a chef's work is never done.