The Mind of a Chef, a popular food series that airs on PBS, selected Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre to star in eight episodes of Season 5, which begin airing fall 2016. Since I was one of the first bloggers who helped to cover Ludo when he and wife/marketing mastermind Krissy Lefevre ran cutting-edge pop-up LudoBites.
I sidled up to the kitchen island in the airy Lefebvre home in the San Fernando Valley, joining Diana Hossfeld, Jo Stougaard, Esther Tseng, Kevin Hsu, and William Chu, some of whom still blog. We shared favorite memories from LudoBites, which popped up 10 times in L.A. and Kona and inspired a Sundance TV show called “Ludo Bites America” and a cookbook called LudoBites: Recipes and Stories from the Pop-Up Restaurants of Ludo Lefebvre.
Squid Pad Thai is a classic dish from LudoBites 5 at the late Max Restaurant in Sherman Oaks featuring squid noodles, bean sprouts, grapes, and peanut.
LudoBites 4 took place at the late Gram & Papa’s in downtown L.A.’s Fashion District and inspired dishes like ham sandwich soup.
We had a front row seat to see Ludo build dishes in his kitchen. Everybody got on their toes to see him sear thick slices of foie gras.
Ludo, ever the showman, incorporated a kitchen torch into the action.
Foie gras dynamite was the resulting dish, a favorite from LudoBites 5 at Gram & Papa’s.
Vivid vegetables represented seasonal California cooking Ludo came to embrace in L.A.
Monkfish, known as lotte in France, received star treatment.
During LudoBites 4 at Gram & Papa’s, Ludo featured roasted monkfish with olive oil and vegetable stew, a dish he described as “more simple, more about the beauty of California.”
Ludo’s mom was in town from France during the filming process.
Before serving dessert, Ludo poured everybody Champagne for a final toast.
For LudoBites 10, Ludo and Krissy returned to Gram & Papa’s, and they clearly didn’t hold back. Creme fraiche panna cotta with salted caramel, sea salt, and Petrossian caviar delivered a sweet and salty exclamation point.
Revisited LudoBites was a great reminder of Ludo’s freewheeling culinary spirit. He now co-owns three restaurants in L.A. with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo: Trois Mec, Petit Trois, and Trois Familia. While the trio reaches great heights at all three restaurants, it felt like Ludo was standing even further out on a limb during LudoBites. That risk-taking approach, backed by talent and flavor, no doubt led to perpetually packed dinners. I had fun discussing the impact of L.A.’s most important pop-up ever, of course enjoyed re-tasting those dishes, and expect the LudoBites episode, and Ludo’s large personality, to translate well to The Mind of a Chef.