Fried Chicken & Food Bloggers: More From Chef Ludo Lefebvre & Wife Krissy About "Ludo Bites America"
Los Angeles-based Chef Ludovic "Ludo" Lefebvre is known for his pop-up restaurant LudoBites, and his innovative cuisine and fiery French temperament, which has in the past translated into some engaging reality food television. Now he and his wife, Krissy, will be on our small screens in Sundance Channel's new series Ludo Bites America, which finds the couple in various U.S. cities popping up with their temporary restaurant in front of the cameras.
We recently spoke with the couple about the show, and how they came to be in cities like Raleigh, Denver, and Omaha where the ingredients--literally and figuratively--are a little different than at home in L.A. In Part One of our two-part interview, we talked logistics, and Hooters girls, foie gras, and "foodies." Now, in Part Two we talk food...and, okay, food bloggers.
LAist: You are known for being cutting edge, and playing with texture and interpretation, and defying expectation in your dishes. How do diners in other cities where perhaps their reputation is for being a less adventurous food city react to your dishes? Did you take into consideration what folks in the cities you visited typically eat when constructing your menus?
Ludo: I tried to do what I always do but I did keep in mind what I thought would be the palate of the local dining community. I tried to take local ingredients and put my spin on them. I would definitely say I did some things people have never seen before and other things I just "twisted a little bit." I made a tortilla soup in Santa Fe, but it was made with homemade flour tortillas that I made, that I then cooked in a broth and blended into a liquid. Not the tortilla soup people were expecting. But they seemed to really like it. In Mobile I kept seeing Po-boys on the menu but it was only with fish, so I put a classic Mobile dish, fried chicken, on the Po-boy with Bearnaise sauce and spicy slaw, kind of like the LudoBites Truck sandwich. In Raleigh I did my version of whole hog BBQ, which way different than they have ever seen before. In Omaha I prepared a sous vide/grilled chicken. I definitely pushed each town to its culinary edge, I think.
Ludo's Fried Chicken served in L.A. (Photo by djjewelz via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
Did any dish in particular turn out better than you expected, in how it tasted and/or how it was received? Did you serve any dish that's a usual "win" here in L.A. that didn't go over well? Will any of your LudoBites America dishes find a home on your LudoBites 007 menu?
Ludo: I think the best dish that I never made before was a whole roasted pork shoulder in salt crust. I never made it before and had no idea if the whole shoulder would cook in time, but it did, and it turned out amazing. I also think my tortilla soup turned out really well. Krissy doubted me the whole time but people really loved it. I didn't really do many dishes from L.A. except my fried chicken sandwich and that was…well you will have to watch and see if people in Mobile like my fried chicken. I plan on putting a dish from each state on the 007 menu. I will probably change them around a few times. I got lots of great stuff from the road.
What were some of the challenges in finding ingredients in your travels? Did you experiment with any new (to you) ingredients?
Ludo: I could not get fresh anything in Mobile, Alabama. They can get it but you have to order 3 days in advance and I don't know my menu until the night before so it was very difficult. I never cooked buffalo before or used red chile, so both were new for me.
Are there crazy camera-toting foodbloggers in other cities, too?
Ludo: Not really.
Krissy: I actually partnered up with a blogger in Omaha to spread the word. I would say that 70% of the people at LudoBites that night were bloggers, but I only saw one camera and that was from the guy that helped organize. We had a couple of bloggers in Raleigh. Of course in Redondo Beach, most tables had cameras. A lot of people wanted their picture with Ludo, but seemed to prefer to eat their food.
Do you think pop-up restaurants will be a trend that takes over across the country now, too?
Ludo: I don't know if pop-ups will be a trend. If it provides an opportunity for other chefs to have the freedom they want to create their art and still make a living then I hope so.
Is America ready for the "fiery" Frenchman?
Ludo: I don't know if America is really ready for me. I am just me and living my true life. I am passionate and want to make people happy. I grew up in an intense French training programming so that is the only way i know. I hope America sees my passion. I think they will. I really loved the experience and it made me love America even more.
"Ludo Bites America" premieres Tuesday, July 19th on the Sundance Channel. LudoBites 007 pops up in Los Angeles at Gram & Papa's in Downtown August 3 to September 10.