Chef Ludo Lefebvre Loves Good Butter, Won't Give Up on Foie Gras

Food & Wine: Ludo Lefebvre
Chef Ludo Lefebvre. Photo © Max Wanger. © Max Wanger

Food & Wine hosted Los Angeles-based chef Ludo Lefebvre on our Facebook page to chat with fans about his favorite foods, cooking tips, and restaurants around the world. Here, he reveals some of the luxuries he will never give up.

Favorite Kitchen Tools, Ingredients and Techniques

Hi. What is the one kitchen tool you can't live without? Thanks!
I could say knife but that is boring. I love a microplane. I love citrus and always love to add zest at the end for nice finish. BUT I could never live without my French spoon for quenelles.

Hi Chef, what is your favorite “delicacy?” I love truffles.
Good butter!!! It is a really delicacy.

Hi Ludo, what is your favorite type of salt?
Sel de Guerande. Do you know it? If they had salt in burgundy I would pick one from there, but we don’t so this my favorite.

Do you know if there is a source for foie gras that can legally sell it since the California ban on “force feeding” went into effect?
I will always serve foie gras in my house :) I don’t buy foie gras from California so it will be interesting to see what effect the law have on that. I need to start my research but I don’t plan to take off my menu, protesters or not.

Cooking Advice

What is good, fairly basic menu to cook at home for a date?
Steak with pink pepper "au poivre" style. I cooked it for my wife and I guess it worked. It was the first time I cooked for a date in my house.

What’s your favorite way to cook pork?
I would brine pork in lemon, black pepper, kosher salt, honey and mustard seed overnight. I love to confit the pork. Slowly poach and then make crispy on the skin.

What is the #1 French dish every home cook should be able to prepare?
Cassoulet or Beef Bourguignon

What the best way to roast chicken?
Any technique you want. At the end of the day you need to have the meat moist and skin crispy. I like to start high to color the skin and then low and baste baste baste. It is about moist meat and crispy skin.

Related: Julia's Roast Chicken Recipe

Restaurant Recommendations

Monsieur Ludo, what restaurants do you recommend in Paris?
There are so many but I had an amazing meal at Yamtcha. Perfect combination of Chinese and French. I would also go to Frenchie—I couldn’t get in so tell me how it is. You should also try really great traditional food at Citrus Etoile and say hi to the chef for me.

Where did you enjoy eating while filming LudoBites America?
Black Cat Bistro in Boulder—AMAZING!! Fai Thai in Raleigh, NC; Dante’s & Spencer’s in Omaha; Queen G’s in Mobile; Biker Jim’s in Denver; Basta Pizzeria in Boulder;Bob Cat Bites in Santa Fe—best burger in my life.

Where can I find innovative French food when Ludobites is not open?
In LA? Melisse or Hatfield’s and Fraiche are doing some great stuff too.

What was your favorite part of your trip to Los Gatos and Manresa?
Hanging with David & Pim and going to Love Apple Farm to see David’s personal garden. So beautiful. My favorite dish at Manresa was the “Into The Garden.” For me David Kinch is one of the best chefs in America.

On Becoming a Chef

Any advice for a young cook working for a very intense French chef in So Cal for the first time?
Just say “oui chef.” NEVER disagree even if the chef is wrong.

So Ludo, why Los Angeles? What enticed you and made you stay?
No idea why I picked Los Angeles. I had choice between Chicago, Washington, New York and LA. I met the owner of L’Orangerie and maybe it was because I thought I could work on Baywatch. I watched a lot of Baywatch when in France. It makes me happy to see the ocean. I stay because my wife is here. My family is here and my life is here now.

Why cooking?
Why not? I spent all my time in the kitchen with my grandmother after school when I was a little boy. I never thought about any other work.

What “classic” have you found to be the most challenging but most successful dish to reinvent?
I think my favorite tweaked recipe was changing the classic French ham & cheese sandwich into a soup. It took a lot of practice, but it turned out great and really tasted just like the sandwich with a little beer on the side

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