LudoBites Recipes and Stories from the Pop-Up Restaurants of Ludo Lefebvre

LudoBites, the book, is at once a chronicle and a cookbook, containing tales of the meteoric career of this rock star of the culinary world (who was running kitchens at age 24) and the full story of his brilliant innovation, the “pop up” or “touring” restaurant that moves from place to place.

Visionary, charismatic master chef, Ludo Lefebvre, and his Los Angeles cult hit “pop-up” restaurant LudoBites are worshiped by critics and foodies alike. LudoBites, the book, is at once a chronicle and a cookbook, containing tales of the meteoric career of this “rock star” of the culinary world (who was running kitchens at age 24) and the full story of his brilliant innovation, the “pop up” or “touring” restaurant that moves from place to place. The star of the popular cable program, Ludo Bites America, on the Sundance Channel, also offers phenomenal four-star recipes born out of the need to be mobile. Readers who love food, who admire genius, and fans of TV’s Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, and Iron Chef are going to want a taste of LudoBites.



Ludo Lefebvre is a culinary prodigy who worked at his first three-star Michelin restaurant at age fourteen. By twenty-five he was running his own kitchen in Los Angeles—winning accolades for serving the most imaginative, forward-thinking food the city had ever seen. In 2007, he traded fine dining—with its endless pomp and bottomless resources—for the freedom to cook outside the box, even if it meant sacrificing his skilled kitchen brigade and drafting an eight-year-old to clean green beans and separate eggs.



The result was LudoBites, a “touring” restaurant that, like a rock ‘n’ roll band, roved the streets of Los Angeles, playing to different sold-out crowds every four months, bringing together old-money customers with a new generation of ambitious eaters who cram in elbow to elbow and cheek to cheek for the chance to sample Lefebvre’s inspired, wildly imaginative food.



LudoBites is the chronicle of that journey. Each chapter showcases the story and the outrageously inventive food of the seven different LudoBites incarnations, featuring recipes that merge the techniques Lefebvre perfected in his years at the finest French restaurants with the simplicity forced upon him by the limits of a pop-up kitchen.



Essays prefacing each chapter give an unprecedented glimpse into the mind of “the chef of the future” (Time), a culinary genius who breaks all the rules, and beautiful, full-color photographs offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of the pain, drama, and triumph inherent in his creative process. As innovative and inviting as the unique chef it captures, LudoBites is a fascinating look at food and a revolutionary new way of cooking.

Ludovic Lefebvre trained with chef Pierre Gagnaire, and at restaurants L’Espérance with Marc Meneau, L’Arpége with Alain Passard, and Le Grande Véfour with Guy Martin in France. Then he moved to Los Angeles to work at L’Orangerie, where he became head chef at twenty-five. Under his guidance, L’Orangerie became one of the top-rated restaurants in California, receiving the Mobil five-star rating. Lefebvre then moved on to Bastide, where he also received the prestigious Mobil five-star rating. In 2007 he started a guerrilla-style pop-up restaurant event called LudoBites that currently takes place at different locations around Los Angeles. Named by Relais & Chateaux as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Chefs, Lefebvre was also a 2001 nominee for the James Beard Foundation Rising Chef Award, and is the author of the cookbook Crave. Lefebvre lives in Los Angeles with his wife and partner, Krissy, and their children.

Spicy Chocolate Mousse with Orange Oil


Serves 10


Chocolate Mousse


½ cup whole milk

2 tablespoons piment d’Espelette

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped

4 large eggs, separated

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

11⁄3 cups confectioners’ sugar

11⁄3 cups heavy cream



Orange Olive Oil



¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grated zest of 2 oranges (use a Microplane)


To make the chocolate mousse


Combine the milk and piment d’Espelette in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to

a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes to



Stir the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water

until melted and smooth. Strain the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the

melted chocolate and stir to blend. Set the chocolate mixture aside until cool to the

touch, about 15 minutes.


Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg yolks, melted butter, and 2⁄3 cup of the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl until light and airy. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the remaining 2⁄3cup confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. (You may also use the hand mixer with clean beaters.)


Using a large rubber spatula, fold the egg yolk mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture.


Gently fold in half of the egg whites to lighten the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites.


Beat the cream in the mixer bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, making sure not to over-mix the mousse, so it retains a light, airy texture. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.


To make the Orange Oil


Combine the oil and orange zest in a food processor and blend for 1 minute. Transfer the oil to a container and store in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before using. This could be made in advance.


To serve


Spoon the mousse into wide shallow bowls. Drizzle the oil over and around the mousse.

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