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To kick off 2020, Maude journeyed to South Australia as the region to be the focus of their tasting menu from January through March. South Australia is in the southern central part of the country where it is nicknamed the "Wine State. It is home to Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Coonawarra. It is a diverse region that includes the coastline and the outback, providing an array of ingredients including wattleseed, quandong (a native peach), mountain pepper, lemon myrtle, native watercress, pandanus and strawberry gum, to showcase in a delicious menu. In addition to the diverse ingredients foraged, the Maude team was also influenced by the fresh seafood sourced from the coast. Oysters, mussels, cockles, limpets, spiny lobsters, Eastern School prawns, and freshwater crayfish are all thriving in the southern waters. They were inspired by chef Maggie Beer, an Australian legend who runs a cooking school and farm shop which is home to peacocks, olive groves, a quince orchard and a lake. And they visited Hutton Vale, where 3,000 merino sheep roam and are raised for their wool and meat. We began with a bottle of Rieslingfreak No. 4 Riesling from Eden Valley that was fresh and aromatic with notes of lemon, lime, white flowers and slate with bright acidity. Our meal started with two plates. One had oysters cooked in lamb fat and hiramasa (yellowtail kingfish) with finger limes. The other plate has celtuce (stem lettuce) with kumquat and coconut, and a tuile cone with wattlesead, potato and black truffle.
Maude has been open for five years! That means 51 menus and 530 Dishes and for me that means 43 menus and 450 dishes. For their fifth anniversary, Maude ventured to Chef Curtis Stone's homeland with a menu centered around Western Australia. Of course, I did not miss this menu as I have not missed a Maude menu since year one! Heading to Western Australia covers a large area. Western Australia covers an entire third of the continent and encompasses the Outback, beaches in the south and of course wine country. There are nine wine regions in Western Australia, including Margaret River, Great Southern and Perth. Per usual, my dining companions pulled wines out of their cellars to share at dinner. But, the wines they brought, while Australian, were not from Western Australia, but rather the well-known regions of Barossa Valley and other areas of Southern Australia. Of course, we enjoyed these during dinner, but we also ordered some gorgeous white wines from Western Australia. But, before we got into the wine, we started with a glass of Moon Bog Old Mate Pale Ale and house-made chips. Beer and chips definitely let us know that we were heading to Australia.  
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. There is a new trend in fine dining and it is called “social responsibility.” Recently, I attended Taste Talks Los Angeles, a food and drink festival featuring talks, tastings, dinners and parties. As L.A.'s amazing chefs, restaurants and cultural figures came together, they engaged in great conversation, including the role social responsibility has in the hospitality industry.
According to the California Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, California has more than 118,000 homeless people, accounting for 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population. Many across the state, from political groups to nonprofits to for-profits to individuals, are working to solve this moral crisis, and the hospitality industry plays an important role.
Chrysalis is a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization  founded in 1984 to create a path to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals. They provide the resources and support to find and retain employment. To date, more than 58,000 men and women have been helped and, most importantly, 71 percent of people who find work through Chrysalis keep their jobs, officials said.