I was very frustrated with the process of opening a restaurant, the landlord, the city issues, the investors, the politics, but I love to cook. This approach allows me to cook and I only have to answer to guests. My only goal is to make the guests happy. Each city had its own set of challenges. Mobile was a problem for ingredients, Santa Fe was a problem with staff, Denver was a problem with equipment, Raleigh had issues with prep space, Omaha had its own special set of issues and Redondo–well you will have to watch and see that one. I am doing food the way I want. _Chef Ludovic Lefebvre
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: Ludo Bites America
French Chef | CRAVE, A Feast of the Five Senses” (Regan Books) | Top Chef Masters | Chef of the Future” by TIME Magazine | Ludo Bites America | Iron Chef | World’s 50 Greatest Chefs by Relais & Chateaux
By: Judith Wallace
Sundance Channel series “Ludo Bites America,” premiering Tuesday, July 19 at 9pm ET/PT.
Breaking away from the fixed and traditional restaurant concept, Top Chef Masters contestant and the owner of Los Angeles’s LudoBites, chef Ludovic Lefebvre along with his business partner and wife Krissy have taken their restaurant on the road for a multi-city tour.
Ludo Bites America which airs July 19 on the Sundance Channel, follows Chef Ludo as he creates pop-up dining experiences across the U.S. while putting a spin on local and classic menus.
Prior to the premiere of Ludo Bites America on the Sundance Channel, Premier Guide Media caught up with Ludo to discuss his new restaurant concept.
What is Ludo Bites America?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: Ludo Bites America is about me and Krissy traveling to 6 cities in America, discovering the local culture and cuisine and then opening LudoBites in each city for one night with a menu that is inspired by the local food of that city. Six cities, six different menus, six different pop-ups and a whole lot of drama and fun.
Tell us about the Pop- Up Restaurant concept.
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: LUDOBITES is our pop-up restaurant, but we really like to call it “Touring Restaurant.” We partner up with existing restaurants that typically don’t have a dinner service and serve dinner for a set period of time. It is a win win for both of us and the partner restaurant. We get the benefit of not having huge capitol investment and the restaurant gets income during a time it would usually be closed
In the show’s description, it mentions taking independent food on the road. Explain independent food.
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: I do what I want, when I want, and where I want. I don’t want some big corporation or a bunch of investors telling me what I have to do. I am doing food the way I want.
Why did you feel the need to take this approach in the food industry?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: I was very frustrated with the process of opening a restaurant, the landlord, the city issues, the investors, the politics, but I love to cook. This approach allows me to cook and I only have to answer to guests. My only goal is to make the guests happy.
Which destination was the most challenging to get the restaurant open?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: This is a difficult question to answer, each city had its own set of challenges. Mobile was a problem for ingredients, Santa Fe was a problem with staff, Denver was a problem with equipment, Raleigh had issues with prep space, Omaha had its own special set of issues and Redondo–well you will have to watch and see that one.
Which destination you enjoyed the most during your travel?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: I really loved Raleigh, NC. I could definitely see myself moving there one day. The town was so alive. I really loved the food, the people and the energy.
Did you discover anything new (food etc) during this experience that will be a part of your cooking in the future?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: Absolutely. I am going to include some North Carolina BBQ on the LUDOBITES 007 menu, as well as use red chile. I also learned to make flour tortillas and I am certain that they will be used in the future. I have cooked for 26 years but I don’t know everything. I learned so much on the road and I am still learning. It is this way you get better as chef. I love to explore and learn new things.
Your wife is a part of the show — was that a challenge and how do you balance work and relationship?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: We both have our jobs. I cook and she does everything else. I don’t want her in the kitchen. We have figured out a good balance. The most important thing is that we trust each other and when we have such an intense job with so much risk, that is what matters most.
Tell us about your cookbook “CRAVE, A Feast of the Five Senses.” Are you planning on writing another book based on the “Ludo Bites America” experience?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: I am working on the Ludo Bites Cookbook right now. It will be based on the menus from Ludo Bites 1.0-6.0. It will be published next year by ECCO Publishing. It is going to be great. LUDOBITES 1.0-6.0 are the originals and there is so much story about how we got here, so I am very excited for it to come out.
You are a French native so have you considered making LudoBites an International Entity?
Chef Ludovic Lefebvre: Ludo Bites the World. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Tuesday, July 19th at 9:00 pm
Ludo and Krissy – food’s hottest couple – get a scorching mouthful of Santa Fe chilies when they head to New Mexico to open their pop-up restaurant, LudoBites. Although it’s not the Wild West he imagined as a kid, Ludo discovers a tight-knit community of spice-loving foodies eager to share the rich culinary traditions of the region. Setting up shop at local favorite, Tecolote Café, Ludo and Krissy plan to wow Santa Fe with their own 5-star take on Southwestern classics. But Tecolote’s owner, Katie Adkins, is struggling to fill her father’s shoes in the kitchen, so things start to heat up as Katie’s inexperience threatens to undermine Ludo’s ambitious menu. From the food to the personalities to the reservations, everything is hot on Ludo Bites America.
Tuesday, July 26th at 9:00 pm
Big ambition meets Big Mama as Ludo and Krissy head to the heartland to open their touring pop-up restaurant. Omaha, Nebraska may be the former home of the world’s largest cattle market, but a visit to Big Mama’s Kitchen inspires them to think ‘soul food’ instead of ‘where’s the beef’. Ludo and Krissy aim to do something unique and memorable, but their proposed menu of down home classics prepared with a French twist is a stretch even for 5-star chef Ludo. Plus, Patricia “Big Mama” Barron and her daughter, Gladys, have certainly never had to deal with a foreign presence in their kitchen, especially a fiery Frenchman who wants to shake things up. Who will be left standing when these big culinary personalities go head-to-head in the kitchen?
Tuesday, August 2nd at 9:00 pm
Mobile, Alabama is home to great Gulf Coast seafood, but the devastation of the recent oil spill has turned the town’s biggest industry into unappetizing fare. Enter Ludo and Krissy, the 5-star couple opening pop-up restaurants across the country. After scouting the scene, they team up with Carolyn Mathers of local lunch spot, Queen G’s Café, to put his high-end spin on Southern comfort food. One of their hardest challenges yet, Ludo and Krissy do battle with missing ingredients, an inexperienced staff, and a kitchen better suited for home cooking than a 3-course tasting menu. It’s down to the wire as they try to raise some fried favorites to new heights and reignite the beleaguered community’s passion for food.
Tuesday, August 9th at 9:00 pm
Ludo and Krissy head to her hometown – Denver, Colorado – on the hunt for the ultimate Rocky Mountain dining experience … literally. Ludo is armed and dangerous as he goes for the gusto in their latest pop-up restaurant event. After arriving in town, an encounter with Denver’s king of street vendors, Jim Pittenger of Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, leads the couple to partner with him at his just-opened brick and mortar establishment. Inspired by Biker Jim’s drive to rev up the humble hot dog, Ludo decides to do a high-end menu of wild meats – for which he intends to grab a gun and start shooting. But, Jim’s crowd is used to hand-held sandwiches and paper plates, so Ludo better aim straight and hit the mark or else this 5-star dream may become just a fantasy.
Tuesday, August 16th at 9:00 pm
Ludo and Krissy travel to the West Coast to put their stamp on the seaside haven of Redondo Beach, California, but they soon find the sunny, laid back atmosphere can take a turn for the dramatic. Here, Mexican food is just as popular as fresh-caught fare from the Pacific, but the SoCal tradition of fusing the two cuisines leads to the best of both culinary worlds. To do his version of this gastronomic mash-up, Chef Ludo enlists the kitchen of Redondo Beach mainstay, Casa Pulido. But between the maverick menu and their largest seating ever, things may just fall apart as tempers flare both inside and outside the restaurant (where protesters picket a controversial dish). Krissy does her best to help Casa Pulido to step up their business and keep it together … but this is one meal that may never get its just desserts.
Tuesday, August 23rd at 9:00 pm
It’s the ultimate pig-out as Ludo and Krissy rewrite the recipe of an American classic, Carolina barbecue. Their travels take them to Raleigh, North Carolina, where they call upon the entire food-loving community to help them pull off a one-night stand of their pop-up restaurant, LudoBites. But to the shock of the locals, Ludo’s renegade menu goes whole hog – using every part of the pig to create a meal to remember. It’s all hands – and all pork – on deck as Ludo and Krissy attempt to push their diners to get cheek by jowl with inventive dishes they never dreamed of eating.
One More Bite
Tuesday, August 30th at 9:00 pm
The season wraps up with an episode featuring some favorite and some never seen before moments from Ludo and Krissy’s culinary road trip.