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The Los Angeles–based French chef Ludo Lefebvre has a roster of highly acclaimed restaurants. With two partners, his three restaurants in a strip mall—Trois Mec, Trois Familia, and Petit Trois—are modest, always- full eateries, as is his pop-up concept, LudoBites, and his fast-casual spot, LudoBird. He also has a wide range of inspirations. L’avant Comptoir De La Mer in Paris inspired his restaurant Petit Trois, and KFC informed his passion for fried chicken, offered at LudoBird. Whitewaller recently indulged in a dinner by Lefebvre for Grey Goose and spoke with him about what’s heating up in the culinary industry today.
WHITEWALLER: How do you feel chefs are changing the way they present a food experience to meet the needs of customers today? Is it more experience-based?
LUDO LEFEBVRE: Dining today needs to have a more holistic feel to it. It’s not just about the food. It’s about the ambiance, the drink pairings, the way everything is presented, true hospitality. You want to tell your customers a full story when they come to your restaurant. Coming to L.A. from France, a lot of my stories have been about redefining French cuisine in America. When I came up with the concept for LudoBites, I wanted to challenge the idea of a traditional restaurant and take my food on the road. People have so many options when they go out to eat nowadays, so making a lasting impact is important.
WW: You’re known as a chef who is bringing French food to L.A. in a different way. What type of experience or specifics in cuisine did you feel was missing or want to present in the U.S.?
LL: A major mission of mine has been reinvention. I love to find new ways to experience time-honored traditions. One of the ways I implemented this into all my restaurants was to start offering food/ cocktail pairings instead of a typical wine pairing. Cocktail pairings are exciting because there are so many unique flavors, textures, and aromas to work with in order to create a real sensorial experience between the food and the drink. That sort of variety is very exciting to play with and ensures that I’m always serving up something new.
WW: We recently sat for a Réveillon dinner you cooked for in New York, presented by Grey Goose, a brand you are a partner chef for. Why is Grey Goose a brand that you enjoy collaborating with?
LL: Grey Goose is my favorite spirits brand to work with—and not just because they’re also from France! I like the premium quality of its ingredients: soft winter wheat from Picardy and fresh spring water from a well located in the Cognac region. Picardy is known as the breadbasket of France, so the wheat grown there is some of the best in the world. Grey Goose vodka has such a distinctive character to it, which makes it ideal for food/cocktail pairings. There are so many ways you can build off of it to create an exciting meal—the possibilities are endless. I also love that Grey Goose embodies the spirit of celebration.
WW: We’ve noticed that you cook a lot with your kids. What do you feel is important to teach the younger generation about cuisine?
LL: I think it’s important to teach creativity. One of the joys of cooking is experimentation. There shouldn’t be steadfast rules that you have to abide by every time. I want to teach the younger generation to have fun and take some risks! Sure, sometimes the results might not be what you want. But sometimes they’ll be better than you ever expected. I also think it is important to teach our children where food comes from and how to respect and eat the planet.
WW: When you’re not in the kitchen, where do you like to eat?
LL: When I’m not in my kitchen I love to go to Gjusta, especially if I can ride my motorcycle there!