18 April 1971 |
Auxerre, Burgundy, France
|Education||Marc Meneau, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Passard, Guy Martin|
|Cooking style||Nouvelle Cuisine|
Ludovic "Ludo" Lefebvre (French pronunciation: [ləˈfɛvʁ]), born 18 April 1971, is a French chef, restaurateur, pop-up impresario, author, and television personality. He trained with the great masters in France for 12 years before moving to Los Angeles. He was quickly awarded the prestigious Mobil Travel Guide Five Star Award at two different restaurants, L'Orangerie in 1999 and 2000 and Bastide in 2006. He then went on to create his uber-popular LudoBites concept, a multi-city restaurant tour, followed by opening two restaurants in Los Angeles, Trois Mec and Petit Trois. 
Early life and training
Lefebvre was born in Auxerre, Burgundy. In his early teens he expressed his desire to be a chef. His father took him to a local restaurant named Maxime and asked them to give Lefebvre some menial job in order to discourage him, but he loved it. His love for food began in his childhood, spending many of his days in his grandmothers kitchen.
His formal culinary training began at age 14 at the restaurant L’Esperance in Vézelay under chef Marc Meneau, where he worked for three years. He then went on to work with Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous restaurant in Saint-Étienne (now closed), then with Alain Passard at L'Arpège, where he trained in what he describes as "the school of fire," learning to control and play with heat. Ludo concluded his formal French training with Guy Martin at Le Grand Vefour, from whom he states that he learned the business side of the food service industry.
In 1996, Lefebvre moved to Los Angeles where he began work at L'Orangerie at the invitation of Gilles Epie, who was the head chef at the time. About a year later, at the age of 25, he was promoted to executive chef and went on to see the restaurant become one of the top-rated in California, receiving the Mobil Guide five-star award.
In 2004, he moved to the restaurant Bastide on Melrose Place, which was also awarded the prestigious Mobil Guide five-star award under his direction. The dishes he created there included panini au foie gras with an apricot based accompaniment, poularde marinated in Pepsi-Cola with popcorn, and panna cotta topped with caviar in a salted-butter caramel sauce. After the restaurant closed for renovations, he decided not to return. On a whim, Ludo asked his friend who owned Breadboard, Ali Chalabi, if he could take over the bakery at night for 3 months when it was otherwise closed. There he created a special event dining experience which ultimately became known as LudoBites and was deemed by LA Weekly's Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, Jonathan Gold, as "a transforming moment in the Los Angeles restaurant scene."
He created the opening menu for the restaurant Lavo  at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, and returned to Los Angeles in 2009. In May of that year, Ludo revived his special event dining concept LudoBites at Breadboard for another 3 months. After an extraordinary second run, it was clear that LudoBites was here to stay, and the “pop-up restaurant” concept was born. He went on to do nine total LudoBites pop-ups in Los Angeles, and one in Hawaii, crashing OpenTable twice and booking 6 weeks of reservations in 47 seconds. 
Bon Appetit called Ludo “the king of pop-ups.” Food writer Richard Guzman wrote of his experience at this venue: "I was sad. The meal was over. In a way, eating at Ludobites is like hooking up with someone way out of your league while on vacation with none of your friends around to witness it and no chance of replicating the experience." The restaurant achieved national acclaim when New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton summarized his experience in an article on August 3, 2010: "The first night eating all this was an amazement. The second was about ten times better – each dish perfectly executed, with every flavor in place, every temperature correct, every plate a fully realized piece of art. It was only the fifth night the restaurant had been open."
In September 2010, Ludo brought fried chicken to the streets of Los Angeles by opening his food truck, known on the streets as "LudoTruck". In October 2013, Ludo took his fried chicken concept to the next level opening his first brick and mortar location, LudoBird, inside the STAPLES Center.
Ludo is now being credited with carrying the flag for Los Angeles modern fine dining, opening Trois Mec in April 2013 in partnership with friends Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Trois Mec has earned 4 stars from both Los Angeles Magazine and LA Weekly, was named Best New Restaurant by both publications, was named to Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurant List for 2013, included in GOOP – List of Best Tasting Menus in the World under $100 and made Zagat's list of Top 10 Hottest Restaurants in the World for 2013. Food & Wine Magazine awarded Trois Mec with the #1 Best Restaurant Dish of 2013 and GQ placed Trois Mec #2 on its list of Best New Restaurants in the country for 2014. LA Weekly has named it the #1 Best Restaurant in Los Angeles for both 2014 and 2015. Trois Mec has also been listed as #34 on the Top 100 U.S. Restaurant List for 2015 on the popular blog Opinionated About Dining. 
In July 2014, Ludo opened his second restaurant, Petit Trois, his "bar-a-la-carte" concept. Eater LA called it “the most hotly anticipated restaurant opening in 2014." Petit Trois is located next door to its sister restaurant, Trois Mec. It was awarded four stars by LA Weekly food critic Besha Rodell, who said, "It is simultaneously one of the most modest and ambitious restaurants to open in recent memory. It's a love letter to another city, written in food, by one of our greatest culinary poets."  'Jonathan Gold, who had by then moved from LA Weekly to the Los Angeles Times, wrote that "there may be no better plate of escargot in town than at the new Petit Trois."  Lesley Balla for Angeleno Magazine called it "Petit Perfection", saying "this is a neighborhood bistro for true artistes, after all, created by culinary rockstars. And, unsurprisingly, it is a smash hit."  Petit Trois was a 2015 James Beard finalist for Best New Restaurant.
In 2006, Ludo appeared on Iron Chef America, challenging Mario Batali in a battle of Big Eye Tuna, where Batali prevailed. Beginning in 2009, Lefebvre appeared on the first and second seasons of Top Chef Masters. He was a guest judge on season 8 of Hell's Kitchen in 2010. In 2011 alongside his wife, Krissy, he starred in a seven-episode series entitled Ludo Bites America on the Sundance Channel.
In January 2013, Ludo joined Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson as a judge/mentor on the ABC prime time cook competition show called The Taste, and was named the “break-out star” of the show by the New York Times. Returning for seasons two and three alongside Bourdain, Lawson, and Marcus Samuelsson, Ludo was pronounced the winning mentor of the hit competition series in season two. In addition, Ludo starred alongside Bourdain and Lawson in the UK version of the show in 2014, where "Team Ludo" took home the trophy and he was declared the winning mentor.
Other TV appearances include: The Today Show, Access Hollywood, Extra!, CNN Money, The Talk, Carson Daly, NPR Morning Edition, The Rachel Ray Show, Good Morning America, Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Eats and a very special episode of No Reservations in his home town in Burgundy.
In 2016 he was featured on Season 5 of Mind of a Chef.
In 2005, Lefebvre released his first book, Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses. It categorizes recipes by sense: "See", "Touch", "Smell", "Hear", and "Taste". The book won second place in the cookbook category in the New York Book Show.
In 2012, LudoBites: Recipes and Stories from the Pop-Up Restaurants of Ludo Lefebvre was released. LudoBites is a chronicle and a cookbook, containing tales of the career of this “rock star” of the culinary world and the full story of his brilliant innovation, the “pop-up” or “touring” restaurant that moves from place to place.
In 2015, Lefebvre released a special 10th Anniversary Edition of his first cookbook, Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses, with new photography, a new cover shot by Lionel Deluy and a crowd-sourced cover art campaign in conjunction with Talent House. Hundred of submissions poured in from across the globe, and ultimately the cover design was awarded to Charles Stanley Doll IV. 
Rising in prominence in the culinary world, Ludo was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation “Rising Chef Award” in 2001, and was named by Relais & Châteaux as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Chefs. His restaurant Petit Trois was a 2015 James Beard finalist for Best New Restaurant.
Lefebvre has described his food as "French with an international flavor." Some of Ludo’s best-known dishes include rack of lamb in a caraway-seasoned broth with baby vegetables, entrecôte with vanilla flavored potato purée, and cardamom and pericarp pepper encrusted lamb. He has been known for using over 200 spices and believes that his most unusual "truc" (technique) is making crême chantilly with fats other than cream, which he learned from Pierre Gagnaire, and his favorite cookbook is Le Pyramide Cookbook by Fernand Point.
- Celebrity Living (May 2005)
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