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Archive for December, 2009

Wine for Haiti

Posted by Austios on December 28, 2009

Please note: in light of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, this event will now benefit the relief fund via the Red Cross.

Please join me on Sunday, January 24th, 2010, from 6-8 PM at Pasadena’s newest hotspot, The Wine Detective, for a night of wine tasting. Please come and mingle with others as we raise our glasses and toast to raising money for a worthy cause.

The Wine Detective
146 S. Lake Ave. #109
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 792-9936

There will be a raffle with some great prizes!!

Tickets are $35 presale or $40 at the door. Please send an email to to reserve your tickets and you will receive instructions on proceeding with payment. Yes, the wine is included in the ticket price. A portion of each sale will go towards the donation.

Light appetizers will be served. Space is limited so RSVP SOON!!


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Ludobites, Behind the Scenes

Posted by Austios on December 25, 2009

As a chef, I have been fortunate enough to be able to do something I am genuinely and whole-heartedly passionate about. While I am still relatively young in my career and have not worked at any widely known or highly coveted restaurants, that still has not stopped me from daydreaming about certain chefs I would love and hope to work for one day. Some of them include Michael Voltaggio, Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, Eric Ripert, Rick Tramonto and Mario Batali. And I mean work FOR them, meaning I would work under them and not in one of their restaurants but never see the guy. I mean, that is just me. I want the guy I am representing by working and cooking in his restaurant to at least know who I am and know that I exist.

However, someone else who is on that list is Los Angeles area chef Ludovic ”Ludo” Lefbvre. Named one of the top 50 chefs in the world by Relais & Chateau, Ludo is a James Beard Rising Star Chef nominee and author of “Crave: A Feast of the Five Senses”, also having been featured on widely syndicated television shows such as Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef America (before his haircut). He also has received much acclaim from the public, bloggers, and critics alike, one of the most notable being Los Angeles area favorite, Jonathan Gold.

Going back to why Ludo is a chef that I want to work for, let me give you a little background. This past summer, I had the chance to eat at Ludobites 2.0, in which he had set up shop at Breadbar on 3rd street, near Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the cluster of some of LA’s better restaurants along La Cienega Blvd. That was around the time that they were showing Top Chef Masters, in which, as I had mentioned previously, Ludo was one of the 24 featured chefs.

The point I am trying to make is I want you to think of this question: How often do you think up and coming chefs get the chance to be able to work directly under or with a chef they admire and respect? Simply put, a chef they WANT to work for? I would not be surprised if that number was less than 5 out of 100. Unless someone is really lucky, he or she will rarely go into a restaurant BEFORE having the dream or wish of working for the chef. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the person will never come to trust or respect the chef, because over time he or she will, but it’s simply about being able to say, “I want to work for him/her”.

It’s pretty obvious by now where I am going with this. As most of you know, I spent a few days in the kitchen at Royal/T for Chef Ludo’s 3rd installment of Ludobites. Having already been a part of Ludobites 3.0 as a diner, I was especially excited to be a part of the fruition and put out the dishes that I so thoroughly enjoyed.

My first day was December 13. Ludo’s wife, Krissy (and which I many times have argued is his better half), asked me to come in at 2 PM. I had already committed to a previous engagement a week prior to be in the San Diego area from the 18th-21st, so we had negotiated for me to go in from the December 13th-17th and then return on the 22nd for their last day of this run. The first day on the job is always the most nerve-wracking. Especially in a restaurant kitchen, you’re having to remember everybody’s name, familiarize yourself with the kitchen and where everything is, and unintentionally going at a slower than normal pace because you do not know how the chef wants certain things and you always have to stop to ask.

For those of you who have never been to Royal/T, their kitchen is quite small. The line is ideal for maybe 3 cooks, 1 more for the garde manger station, then 1 dish washer and 1 expediter. There is relatively limited shelf space, no walk in refrigerator or freezer, so moving about was quite challenging. Of course, Royal/T in their normal business does not do a lot of food, so a kitchen this size is perfect. They usually have 2 cooks and another prep cook during their lunch service. However, for Ludobites, there was at least 2 of us (Ludo would join us for the rush) on the line, 2 on garde manger, 1 person floating, 2 dishwashers, and the expediter. Yeah, it was a tight squeeze. Also, the way the kitchen was laid out, we were constantly crossing each other on the line, making it even more difficult to have things run perfectly smooth back there.

But we made it work. And I will tell you, it was exhilarating! I will admit and say that I have not been on a line in probably 3 1/2 years, so I will admit I was quite nervous to be working an actual dinner service. But I got through it with minimal problems. I just had so much fun. Yes, I burned myself was I was frying some plaintains and the scars will be pretty bad, but hey, my old scars were starting to fade and I needed new ones.

The rest of the week was just as awesome. Yes, I was stressed out and running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but that’s mainly because I was trying to do what I could to prepare for my gig in San Diego and finish as much Christmas shopping as I could in the mornings, since I needed to leave the house by 1. But like I always say, “it’s better being busy than not”, right?

I will have to say that what was quite interesting were all the people who had come in during my time there. I mean, it seemed that, as Jo from @mylastbite so affectionately put it, I had as many “froupies”, which is her own mashing of the words “foodie” and “groupie”, as Chef Ludo did. No, that’s not true, but there literally were at least 4 or 5 people each day that I had either met via Yelp or knew through Twitter, etc, that had come into eat. Probably the best moment in that regard was when Ludo came into the kitchen one night towards the end of service saying, “Austin, Jazz (the owner of Jitlada) wants to meet you”. I will have to say I was a little shocked at that. SOMEONE wanted to meet ME? Jazz, who was dining with Jo that night, is such a sweetheart and a really nice woman. All I have to say is, “Thai Chili”.

I am a firm believer of his concept and of his food, and now that I have had the chance to work beside him, I know that he is genuinely a great person both in and out of the kitchen. He really is a charmer with the ladies, but as Krissy has said, “it wears off quickly”.

Until next time, Chef.

P.S. – Don’t worry, I didn’t spit in anybody’s food

Posted in food, Restaurants | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A Very Ludo Christmas

Posted by Austios on December 9, 2009

Do you like our Christmas Card Photo? I will be sending them out soon.

Posted in food, Restaurants | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ludobites – Menage a Trois?

Posted by Austios on December 4, 2009

Ludobites & Royal/T In Bed Together

Some people will say ”third time is the charm” when it comes to various things.  Sometimes they are right, other times they will be wrong.

In the case of Chef Ludo Lefebvre, his third Ludobites pop-up was indeed quite charming, this time taking over Royal/T Cafe, the cosplay-themed tea house and art gallery, in Culver City.  Tagging along with Linden from Gastronomnom, Felicia from Food For Fel, Mike from Right Way to Eat, along with several others (eight of us in all), we were fortunate enough to be able to secure a reservation last night. We unfortunately were not able to get a reservation for opening night, but the 2nd night is not bad at all.

Our table awaits...

Ludo’s wife, Krissy, was the perfect hostess/floor manager, having gone to hell and back running all over having organized the entire reservation system as well as running the front of the house. She is a total sweetheart and seeing the two of them together can, in my personal opinion, be described as a romantic comedy.

There was much anticipation among our group and Chef Ludo did not fail to deliver.  The menu featured all different dishes than from last time, and overall seemed to have some Asian influences.

Le Menu

Between the 8 of us, we decided to get 2 of everything and share among both sides of the table, with the only exception being that we ordered 4.  We started off with the caramelized peanuts. I unfortunately did not take a picture of this. There was definitely some ginger in there.  A rather simplistic start, but good nonetheless.

Next came the scallops with brown butter, brunoise of pineapple, and black powder.  The scallops were fantastic and very fresh and the entire dish was well-balanced.

Scallops with Brown Butter, Pineapples, and Black Powder

Next we had the bread soup, with a poached egg and gruyere marshmallow.  The marshmallow was lost in the rest of the dish, but the egg was perfectly poached and the bread soup was just absolutely phenomenal.  We all had picked out a porky,  smokey quality to the soup, which we later found out when Ludo came out to chat that he added bacon and onions to the soup.  Yes, I just said bacon.

Bread Soup with Poached Egg and Gruyere Marshmallow

The next dish that came out was the confit of pork belly, with pickles, mustard, vadouvan apples and frisee.   The pork belly was awesome, but when is pork belly NOT awesome?  Well, let me back up just a little here.  While this pork belly was really good,  I actually want to say I preferred the pork belly at his last Ludobites a little more.  That is just me though.

Confit Pork Belly with Vadouvan Apples and Frisee

The next dish was Monterey Squid with a Chorizo oil, kimchee puree, and what I later found out to be eggplant ”paper”.  The squid was cooked perfectly and the eggplant paper was interesting, but a good interesting, of course.

Monterey Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchi Puree, Eggplant Paper

What was perhaps the piece de resistance (sp?) was the foie gras beignet.  Yes, foie gras in a beignet.  Do you think we would let Ludo go without putting a foie gras dish on the menu?  I think not.  The foie was succulent and tender and slightly salty, playing a perfect match to the subtly sweet beignet exteior.  The Yellow Celery Root Remoulade looked reminiscent of mac n cheese, but was just wonderful.

Foie Gras beignet with Yellow Celery Root Remoulade

Without any signs of slowing down, we moved onto the Udon. Veal Udon with a kombu dashi, mushrooms, and sesame seed miso. This dish was really good, the udon was perfect and the flavor reminded me a lot of Chinese beef noodle soup, but better.

Veal Udon, kombu dashi, mushrooms, and Sesame seed miso

Next: the Wild striped bass with garden baby vegetables and a Yuzu Aioli.  The fish was perfectly cooked and the yuzu aioli was a PERFECT accompaniment to the fish.  The baby brussel sprouts were a good balance to the dish.

Wild Striped Bass with Garden Vegetables and Yuzu Aioli

Finally, for a little bit more hearty protein, we had the hangar steak with crunchy escargot, baby corn, bok choy and a black olive mole.  The steak was perfectly cooked, the escargot was nice, though not entirely needed, and the baby corn was good.  However, the black olive mole was just superb, a perfect pairing with the steak.  Great seasoning and flavor all around.  Not bad considering Ludo just learned how to make mole sauce 2 weeks ago.  Yes, we all want to thank Javier and his mom for teaching our beloved Ludo the intricacies of mole sauce.

Hangar Steak with crunchy escargot, baby corn, bok choy, and black olive mole

Moving onto dessert, for the ”cheese” course, there was the Fourme d’Ambert Tourte, with red pear and honey balsamic.  The tort was AWESOME.  We asked for the recipe but he more or less just described to us how to make it, using puff pastry, a thick bechamel and the bleu cheese.  I normally do not like bleu cheese, and I actually thought he had used a goats milk cheese, but he said the cheese he used was much milder than your average bleu cheese.  I could’ve had about 4 more of those slices.

Fourme d'Ambert Tourte, Red Pear and honey balsamic

The 2 dessert courses were good, but Ludo not being a pastry chef, I knew they were not going to be knock your socks off good.  With that said, he still did a great job, probably still better than I would have done, and I actually am a pastry chef.  No, but seriously, they were great.  The first was a chocolate ”cake” with coconut sorbet soup and rum banana.  The ”cake”, I learned from Krissy, was actually a chocolate fudge, but the coconut sorbet and rum banana were just really good.

Chocolate cake, coconut sorbet soup, rum banana

Last but not least was the Pistachio rice milk with lemon pound cake and coffee chantilly.  I personally love pistachio, but I will be honest and say the texture was interesting.  I personally had no problem with it, but I could see how the texture could put off some people.  But the pound cake was good and the coffee chantilly was nice and light.  I do not have a photograph of this dish, which amazes me because I could have sworn I got a picture of every dish.

Our server, Kat, was great, though questionably genuinely bubbly.  Even Krissy was wondering if thats how she always is.  But she was very attentive and just very polite and sweet.  In case you’re wondering, she is the one that looks like Sarah Silverman.

All in all, a wonderful meal provided by an awesome chef.  Once you get past his heavy French accent, he is just genuinely a down to earth guy who only wants to cook.  I know, because that is what he kept telling Sarah from The Delicious Life and Taste Spotting that after her multiple attempts of trying to convince him to do a TV show while we were chatting over some wine.  There were others at the table as well.

Be sure to follow Chef Ludo on twitter @ChefLudo and his wife, Krissy (@FrenchChefWife) for stay up to date with Ludobites and hopefully soon, news about their upcoming brick and mortar version of Ludobites.

Ludo Bites at Royal/T in Los Angeles

Posted in food, Restaurants | 4 Comments »


Posted by Austios on December 2, 2009

There are very few things that induce genuine and uncontrollable anticipation. Whether it be intimacy with a loved one, potentially winning the lottery, or catching a nail-biting moment of a sports event, more times than not you cannot control yourself and in times where anticipation is thrown in to tango with excitement, you cannot but help yourself from doing a happy dance:

The anticipation I speak of (which in this instance, is definitely intertwined with excitement) is the opening of the Winter Ludobites Pop-up (3.0, Part III, or any other name you desire) set to begin today, December 2, 2009.

Chef/Owner Ludo Lefebvre had such great success during his first two pop-ups, but most recently in the summer of this year at Breadbar on 3rd, that instead of torturing his followers to wait any longer for a brick and mortar version (which they are looking into), has decided along with his wife, business partner, and arguably better half, Krissy, to have another pop-up, this time deciding to set up shop at Royal/T in Culver City. Or at least, that is my assumption of the situation.

Preview of Signage (via

I was fortunate enough to have had Chef Ludo’s food at his last Ludobites pop-up, and I am ever so grateful for that day.  Everything was just awesome with great textures and flavors, I can only imagine what Round 2 has in store.

I have been able to refrain from even peeking at the menu (which is posted SOMEWHERE) in order to maximize my anticipation and excitement for dinner tomorrow night (Thursday, come stalk me if you dare), but I have heard rumors of the possibility of a foie gras beignet, which if executed correctly (which I have no inkling of a doubt whatsoever Lefebvre can pull off) will be, dare I say, orgasmic.

You all can definitely count on a follow-up post with plenty of photos.

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