Like the star of some awesome martial arts movie, Chef Ludo (as he’s known) spent 12 years training with the masters in his homeland (France) before moving to Los Angeles to totally obliterate the food scene. While actual ass kicking may or may not have been involved, we do know that Chef Ludo’s culinary moves are akin to a legend-in-the-making. After the crazy success of his pop-up restaurant, LudoBites, the chef opened up his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Trois Mec, in 2013, named Best Restaurant in Los Angeles by LA Weekly for two consecutive years. With his new “Bar a la carte” concept, Petit Trois, the James Beard nominated chef is about to deliver a mean crane kick. We caught up with the Chef and cookbook author to get his essential nine.
1. What’s an underrated food city and why?
Los Angeles. There is an incredible variety of cultures, produce and food in L.A. I think some people don’t realize how lucky they are to live here.
2. What food/food trend are you tired of?
Fat, fat, fat—like pork fat. I am so tired of seeing it everywhere.
3. How do you feel about Yelp?
I never look at Yelp, but I make sure my restaurant managers do. We need to know if people are happy and if not what we can do to fix it.
4. If your kitchen is burning down, what’s the one gadget you save?
I have had many knives, but for this circumstance I would take my pocket knife. I always carry it with me, but have learned to keep it in my suitcase when traveling, since I’ve lost a couple to TSA. I would also take my Thermomix. It’s truly one of the greatest kitchen appliances in the world. It has been around much longer than people in the U.S. realize. My grandmother had one in her kitchen when I was growing up. It does everything: Chops, emulsifies, purees, cooks, makes dough, has an integrated scale. I could make an entire meal in it.
5. Your guilty pleasure food?
Fried chicken. In France, fried chicken is not a big thing. It was really in America that I discovered [it]. I have tried everything from low-end chain restaurants to super high-end. One of the most memorable fried chickens I have had was in Omaha, Nebraska at Big Mama’s Kitchen. If you go to Omaha, check it out. I developed my recipe for LudoBird while doing the LudoBites pop-ups (Editor’s Note: LudoBird is Chef Ludo’s popular concession stand inside the Staples Center]. I tried many different recipes until I found the perfect combination of a brine, breading, and spices that worked. I never thought that as a young chef that I would own a fried chicken concept restaurant…
6. If you could cook for one person—who would it be?
Jean-Michel Basquiat. [He] really inspires me. His work can be so very complex and complicated and then so simple. I love the way he uses colors…they are rich and vivid, and even when he uses black and white it is still very bold. If I could have cooked for him, it would have been eggs. Not sure exactly what dish at this point, but he included eggs in a number of pieces of art, so trying to learn the importance of the egg story to him through food would have been amazing.
7. What are five ingredients that are always in your pantry?
Seaweeds, fleur de sel, garlic salt, piment d'espelette and fennel pollen.
8. What’s the one mistake most amateur chefs make?
They think too much and over complicate things. I did the same thing when I was young. Only age can teach you not to.
9. What’s the best advice you ever received?
Stay you. Stay true to yourself and don’t let anyone try to change you.