French-born Ludovic (Ludo) Lefebvre has made Los Angeles his home for the past few years, with stints at L’Orangerie, Bastide, and of late, the much-buzzed about, though temporary, Ludo Bites, where he served up supertiny ingenious plates at Breadbar three nights a week. Here, Ludo talks about Lavo, his new restaurant opening in the Palazzo in Las Vegas next month.
On his reinterpretation of Mediterranean classics: “It’ll be a Mediterranean bistro, with traditional flavors from Spain, the South of France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Morocco. But while I’m not changing any flavors, I’m working a lot with texture and technique. Instead of a traditional Greek salad with crumbled feta cheese, I’ll have a frozen mousse of feta. For a Caprese salad, instead of sliced tomatoes, I’m making a cherry tomato confit.”
On the secret to great pizza dough: “I’m very proud of my pizza dough. It’s very thin and very crispy, with a nice char on the bottom that we make with a wood-fired oven in the kitchen. I’ve learned the most important aspect of pizza dough is the water—and we have a twist with that, but I can’t tell you what it is."
On the ultimate pizza-topping combination: “Lobster, black truffle, truffle oil, crispy potato, caramelized onions and a black truffle cheese from Italy—inspired by a dish of whole lobster, black truffle and potatoes served at Alain Passard’s L’Arpège in Paris while I was working there. I thought, Why not turn this into a pizza?”
On his newest spice mixture: “When I was at Bastide, I was known for vadouvan. Now I’m creating my own black curry with Mediterranean flavors: black olives, dates, espresso, piment d'Espelette, garlic, lemongrass leaves. I’m going to serve it with lamb kebabs.”
On new cooking equipment: “We have a new machine called a Gastrovac. It’s like a vacuum machine that lets you fry. It gives superconcentrated flavor, and I love to use it for vegetables because it keeps their color. For my Caesar salad, I’m cooking ribs of lettuce with olive oil, lemon juice and anchovies in the Gastrovac.”
On where in Vegas he’s going to surf: “Good question. My surfboard is still in L.A. Maybe I’ll just blow up a raft in my pool.”