Television: Ludo takes a bite out of the US
“Top Chef Masters” alum Ludo Lefebvre brings his pop-up “LudoBites” restaurant, first made famous in Los Angeles, to various cities this summer on his new Sundance Channel series, “Ludo Bites America.” The classically trained French chef and his wife and business partner Krissy take viewers behind the scenes as they taste regional flavors, plan menus and do everything else it takes to open a restaurant — and fast, because they only have one week to create each. We chatted with Ludo about his experiences on the road.
What surprised you the most about the food scene outside of L.A.?
I think I was most surprised by how much American food I had never tried before. I ate po’boys, buffalo meat, red chile, waffles with my fried chicken, chicken fried steak, Rocky Mountain Oysters. It is amazing how many different foods are in America.
Do you feel accurately portrayed on the series?
Yes. I am who I am. What we do is very intense, and sometimes I express myself — loudly. I also think the series showed the other side of me. I love to have fun and joke around. Life is very, very, very serious in the kitchen, but outside it is about having fun.
One of the guests in the Santa Fe restaurant referred to you as “Chef Crankypants.” Did that upset you? Do you think she was wrong in her assessment?
No. I think it is funny. I get cranky after I say the same thing 10 times to the same person and they keep making the same mistake. So yes, at times, it is Chef Crankypants.
How do you successfully work with people who have a totally different approach to their restaurants than you do?
It is difficult, but we make it work. I have no choice to make it work; this is my staff for that night. I think when the tickets start flying in and the customers are waiting, the staff finally gets it and usually appreciates my sense of urgency after the fact.
What city gave you the biggest cultural shock?
I was surprised how difficult it was to get fresh anything in Mobile [Alabama]. You can get it, but you have to order three days in advance. It was a cute little city and I had a great time, but I could not believe how difficult it was to get ingredients.