Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
In any industry there are certain accolades that carry more weight than any others, honors that just matter more. In the case of Chef Ludo Lefebvre, those are “Culinary Master” and “World’s 50 Greatest Chefs”. Chef Ludo made a name for himself training under various legends in his native France. From there he conquered the Los Angeles food scene with his exquisite and inventive cooking at Trois Mec, Petit Trois and Trois Familia. Chef Ludo also hosts his own digital series, writes cookbooks and in his latest endeavor has been named a Culinary Master with the Lexus Culinary Masters group, where he acts as an ambassador and partners with the Lexus brand on various initiatives in the areas of food and wine. The Overhead Compartment was fortunate to take a spin with Chef Ludo and learn about his exciting opportunity with Lexus and gather a few cooking tips.
The Overhead Compartment with Chef Ludo starts now….
OC: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from being welcomed into the Lexus Culinary Masters group that includes so many legendary chefs?
LL: This is a new relationship for me, but what is immediately apparent is that EVERYTHING Lexus does is of the highest quality. It is truly an honor to join such a highly respected group of chefs.
OC: What is one thing all these chefs from different backgrounds and different specialties have in common?
LL: I think I would say the love and passion for their art. Regardless of the type of food or type of restaurant, all of the chefs that are part of the Lexus Culinary Masters team strive for perfection on the plate.
OC: You have an at-home web based cooking series “Ludo à la Maison” that demonstrates various recipes from your time in France and professional kitchens. What is the single most important lesson a person should learn to become a better cook?
LL: Slow down and take the time to be prepared before you start to cook. In France it is called mise en place, which means, “everything in its place”. Your cooking experience will be so much better if you get all of your ingredients ready before you start. Pick your pots and pans, plan the cook time, etc… also, clean as you go. Nothing worse than finishing a meal and having tons of dirty dishes to clean.
OC: You’re described as America’s French Chef, what does that description mean to you?
LL: I often have to think if I am American or if I am French. After 22 years in America, I sometimes forget my French, but then realize I don’t know the English word. I became an American citizen more than 10 years ago and I am very proud of that fact, but in my heart I will always be French. You can’t take the Frenchman out of an American, even after 22 years.
OC: Wine is such an important part of French cuisine, what role does wine play in a meal you plan?
LL: Wine is there is to elevate a meal. Pairings should compliment and enhance the experience. Traditionally French meals were always paired with wine. I could never have imagined pairing a meal with a cocktail, but now I like to work with our sommelier and change things up a bit and add cocktails, beers and teas to our pairing. I am really proud of the fully non-alcoholic pairing we have created at Trois Mec. The dining experience shouldn’t be any less amazing because a guest does not drink alcohol.
OC: What trends in French cuisine do you see becoming most important in the next few years?
LL: I am so happy to see the return to Americans embracing “real butter”. For so long it was all about avoiding butter, but now people are even putting butter in their coffee. I think the French way of eating, i.e., real food, but in moderation, will continue to become more of the American way of life. The over-processed fake food is slowly going out of style. I see many more “artisans” of cuisine coming back.
OC; At what point did you know you wanted to be a chef?
LL: I never “knew” I wanted to be a chef. Lets say I was not the best kid. When I was 13, I had been kicked out of school already a few times. My Dad told me that I needed to start an apprenticeship since I couldn’t make it in school. He gave the choice of being a hairdresser, a mechanic or a cook. I loved to eat so I chose the path of a chef. I started in my apprenticeship program when I was 13 years old. Fortunately I had a natural talent.
OC: If you were not a chef, what would you see yourself doing?
LL: I would be an architect or a painter, maybe a landscape architect.
OC: What’s your favorite meal to cook?
LL: That’s tough. My favorite thing to eat is roasted chicken, so that would probably be the one I love to cook the most. I love to cook with my kids so anything when I can spend time in the kitchen with them would now be my favorite.
OC: Least favorite food to cook?
LL: I am happy to say that I have gotten to the point in my career that I don’t have to cook anything I don’t want to anymore. Fortunately I have also moved beyond cooking competition shows, because inevitably I would get some kind of crazy ingredient like refrigerated canned biscuits, which is the death ingredient of a Frenchman.
OC: You have a number of restaurants in Los Angeles. Aside from your own, what are your top three restaurants in LA? In the world?
1. David Toutain
2. Yam T’Cha
OC: What’s the most exciting place work has taken you?
LL: Last year I had the chance to go to Japan with Global Knives. Not only did I get to watch first hand the process of making the knives, but I got to experience the amazing cuisine and culture of Japan for the first time. I am so blessed in my life to be able to travel the world for work.
OC: How would you spend a day there if you had one free?
LL: I would sit in a Buddhist temple all day and talk to NOBODY!!
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
LL: Lay on the bed. I like to know how my night’s sleep is going to be on the hotel mattress.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
LL: My Lexus. In seriousness, my pocket knife.
Chef Ludo Lefebvre, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!