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My L.A. to Z: Ludo Lefebvre
The French celebrity chef behind pop-up sensation LudoBites (he’s also a mentor on ABC’s new show The Taste) reveals his new favorite place for ramen, his local surf spot, and the L.A. institution where he takes his wife for a double order of spicy penne with langoustines
Being a chef I am usually working on any special occasions, so my wife, family or my friends usually have to come to me if they want to see me on a special occasion. Lately it seems like the LudoTruck caters all of our special occasions, baby showers and birthday parties. I am not complaining and neither are my guests.
My first condo was at Shoreham Towers overlooking Sunset Boulevard. I was just a young French chef living the crazy American dream back in 1998 when I moved in. I have a friend that still lives in the building, so whenever I go visit him and see the beautiful skyline of Los Angeles from the beach to downtown (on a clear day), it brings back a lot of special memories and reminds me how great this city has been to me.
I love to surf, not that I am particularly good at it, but the ocean gives me a place to just think and be one with nature. I usually hit the surf in Venice, but sometimes head down to Manhattan Beach. I don’t get out to surf as much as I like, but I still try to get out once a month or so.
I never like to say I have favorite restaurants, because it just depends on my mood. Do I want ramen? Fine dining? Mexican? Thai? With my crazy schedule and the twins, the nights of long dinners have become few and far between. I have been on a ramen kick lately and have been a regular of ordering to go at Tamashii on Ventura Boulevard; it is usually spicy chicken ramen (medium spicy), chicken wonton ramen and crispy chicken bites.
There is no such thing as “relaxing” in my life. It is all about the joy of finding fun things to do with them and watching their faces light up as they explore and experience new things. I love to take them to the beach. My daughter loves to run straight into the water (like I said NOT relaxing) and my son is a huge fan of sand, whether it is in his bucket or his mouth. Manhattan Beach, north of the pier is kind of our spot.
I like to take people down to Venice beach to check out all the crazy freaks but then also go up to Malibu, walk around Malibu Country Mart and then head over to the beach by the houses on the water. Two completely different experiences, but both have their own unique specialness.
Mozza, Picca and Blue Dog Tavern
I do love Mozza for a drop in long lunch at the bar or Picca for some ceviche and pisco sours. But you are just as likely to find me at Blue Dog Beer Tavern in Sherman Oaks having a Chimay and burger. Like I said, it just depends on my mood.
My wife loves Giorgio Baldi restaurant, so sometimes we will go there for her birthday. She was going to Giorgio Baldi before I met her. It was the first restaurant she ate at when she moved to Los Angeles in 1997. She gets exactly the same thing every time—spicy penne with langoustines, usually a double order. If it makes her happy, it makes me happy. Isn't that the key, keeping your wife happy, especially for her birthday?
We have gone to the LA Zoo to look at the giraffes, monkeys and elephants. The babies are just starting to talk, so it was really fun when we took them to see the monkeys, and my daughter kept saying "chango, chango" and my son kept saying "singe, singe." Kind of blew me away. Guess they really are paying attention to all three languages [we speak]. I think their favorite part was watching the elephant go "pee-pee".
Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) ludotruck.com, (2) highrises.com, (3) venicebeach.com, (4) tamashiiramen.com, (5) WikiMedia Commons, (6) WikiMedia Commons, (7) bluedogbeertavern.com, (8) giorgiobaldi.us, (9) lazoo.org