Ludovic Lefebvre, the passionate 34-year-old who gained notoriety in Los Angeles as the executive chef at L’Orangerie, was appointed head chef at Bastide last year—one of the country’s most decorated restaurants.
At L’Orangerie, Lefebvre earned a reputation of combining old world simplicity with subtly exotic new world flavors. At Bastide, he has intensified his proprietary world spice combinations and has created a truly epic culinary adventure. While the menu maintains its French foundation, it travels beyond those borders into new territory. “The Bastide menu will constantly evolve with my skill set and interests. Having traveled extensively, I am inspired by the local flavors from around the world. I love to read local cookbooks and I am usually pouring over three at a time,” says the heavily accented chef. “I want to respect the past, but live in the present,” he adds.
He also receives inspiration from the art world. His vision is to display unusual spices throughout the restaurant like art, as if they are priceless museum pieces. Ultimately, Lefebvre brings science into his cooking. He experiments with diverse ingredients, blends them at a fast pace, and creates explosive recipes. Lefebvre titles the end result, “molecule cuisine.” His kitchen sends out French food with a scientific twist; the dishes are put together carefully so that each flavor of food compliments the other.
Growing up in Burgundy, Lefebvre used to be a self-described “trouble maker.” When he was not roaming the streets with his rough crowd, he was developing a passion for cooking by spending hours in the kitchen with his grand-mère.
When he entered his teen years he proclaimed his desire to be a chef. At 13 his father begrudgingly took him to a local restaurant, Maxime, and told them to assign the worst job to him, believing that he would quit after a couple of weeks. “I loved it, peeling potatoes, onions, washing dishes, I was eager to learn,” remembers Lefebvre. That ambition has guided his career to some of the world’s most renowned restaurants. He has trained under chefs Marc Meneau at the legendary restaurant L’Esperance; Pierre Gagnaire at Saint-Etienne; served as the personal chef for the Defense Minister; and Alain Passard at L’Arpege, one of Paris’ most prestigious restaurants; then finally to the three-star Michelin restaurant Le Grand Vefour before immigrating to the United States in 1996.
“I wanted to work in Los Angeles to have more freedom to experiment,” reflecting his desire to move. “Cooking is all about taking risks and learning everyday! If I am not learning, I get bored.”