The Taste's French Chef Ludo Lefebvre: It's Game On!

TV Guide

Ludovic Lefebvre | Photo Credits: Craig Sjodin/ABC

"Trust me. It's game on!"

Chef Ludo Lefebvre is psyched for viewers to watch Tuesday's episode of The Taste (8/7c, ABC), when the culinary reality series shifts from the audition to competition rounds. Now that he and his fellow mentors -- Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Brian Malarkey -- have chosen their four-person teams of home cooks and professional chefs, it's time to pit them against each other. Beyond the increased heat in the kitchen, the possibility of eliminating one of their own team members during the blind taste-test drove the mentors to drink.

PHOTOS: Stars who don't look their age

"I was not expecting this show to be so emotional and to be so competitive," Lefebvre tells TVGuide.com. "Oh my God, I thought I was back on Top Chef Masters or Iron Chef. Here we go again! It was a challenge. Nigella I know was so stressed sometimes on the set that she'd come to my trailer and we'd do a shot of tequila, Don Julio. With Tony too sometimes we drank some bourbon. Tony also liked gin and tonics. Brian drank a lot of beer. So yeah, we all drank."

This week as part of the Comfort Food challenge, guest chef Gabrielle Hamilton -- who owns New York City's Prune restaurant and is the author of the best-selling memoir Blood, Bones and Butter -- serves the contestants and mentors a dish accompanied by a personal story about that dish. The mentors will then spend an hour with their teams to create their own one-bite comfort foods, and from among those, the mentor selects one spoon to represent the team. The team's spoon that Hamilton selects as the winner will then receive two rewards going into the final challenge: the cook/chef who made the spoon has immunity and the remaining teammates get the benefit of Hamilton's guidance in the kitchen to cook their elimination-round bites.

"After the mentors get to taste all the spoons, blind-tasting, we are going to pick some spoons to go home and the winning spoon," says Lefebvre. "It's two people [eliminated] this week. Sometimes it's three. So you never know.  So you never know what you're going to try, so you can send somebody from your team home."

Check out the rest of our interview with Lefebvre, and be sure to watch the exclusive video below, in which the French chef reveals his favorite American foods:

In the first audition show, you offered the contestant Renee from Chicago a job if she came to Los Angeles, even though you didn't pick her for your team. What has happened since? Did she contact you?
Ludo Lefebvre:
When I tried her spoon, I really loved it. Everything was cooked perfectly, but it was missing a little seasoning. I was really sad that nobody picked her, so that's why I proposed to her to come to work with me. I did an interview with her on the phone. Actually she's coming next week to cook with me for a few days because I have a private party to do for a new restaurant that I'm opening. I'm a man of my word. If I said I was going to hire her, I want to give her the chance. She deserves it.

Out and proud celebrities

On the second night of auditions, the meatless/dairy-less spoons failed to impress the judges. Could a vegan or vegetarian chef succeed on this show?
Lefebvre:
It was just not good enough. Vegetables are very difficult to cook. It's more difficult to cook a carrot than to cook a piece of pork because pork is good already, but a carrot is a carrot. If I had a good vegetable dish, I would pick it. And don't get me wrong, I love vegetables. I love to eat carrots with the perfect spice and salt. I'm obsessed with carrots. I love everything about them.

All four of your team members created audition spoons with seafood. Is seafood prevalent because it's the easiest thing to make in a limited period of time?
Lefebvre:
I would say no. Seafood is not easy to do. But we did have a lot of shrimp and a lot of scallops. I guess that day when we went shopping the scallop was on sale. It was a good price? I don't know, but it was a lot of scallop. Scallops are not that easy to cook, to cook it very crispy and medium rare. I was surprised to see so much seafood.

Are the home cooks more nervous during the competition than the professional chefs or vice versa?
Lefebvre:
On my team, the home cook was less [stressed-out]. The professional chefs were nervous. If you are a professional chef, you have a lot of things to prove, you don't want to get beat by a home cook. Trust me, there are some egos on the team. Some chefs think they know everything. Sometimes they don't listen to me, so I get mad. It's my first job as a chef, when I'm in the kitchen, it's to teach my staff how to cook. That's why they work with me. So when I'm with my team on TV on The Taste, it's exactly the same way. I want to show them new techniques, something they never did before, to pull them out of their comfort zone.

A lot of fans of the show have commented on the fact that you and Nigella have great chemistry and are always flirting. I know you're both married, so what's going on there?
Lefebvre:
Nigella had her own show on E! Entertainment 10 years ago. She was so sexy! She still is so sexy. But I was in love with her. So just to be next to her was so exciting, and I was nervous too. So why wouldn't I want to flirt with her? She's cute, she's sexy and you should see the way she puts the spoon in her mouth. And she's fun and she knows a lot about food. Better watch out for her on the show because, trust me, she knows what is good food. Yes, I flirt with her, but I want to be very close to my enemy. [Laughs]

Was the rivalry even more pronounced between you and Chef Malarkey going into the competition rounds? You took three of the chefs he wanted for his team.
Lefebvre:
I have nothing against him, but he's always screaming my name. I mean, the guy is obsessed with me. I don't know why. He really wants to beat me. I think maybe because I win three fights against him and now he has something to prove to me. But Brian has a good palate too. We picked those same three contestants, and I also almost picked one that ended up on his team: Kristianne. The scallop with the corn puree.

From Ron Swanson to the Dowager Countess: Surprisingly sexy TV characters

How does your experience with pop-up restaurants (like the ones you did on Ludo Bites America or your LudoBites dinners) help you as a mentor?
Lefebvre:
When I do a pop-up, I just have two days to open a restaurant. I don't have much time to train my staff. I need to do the recipes in two days. So I'm used to working under pressure. When I do LudoBites, I am very limited sometimes with what I have in the kitchen. I don't always have the best kitchens. When I cooked in the bakery, it's very difficult. So I learned a lot, how to execute my food in a very short period of time to get ready.

You've mentioned before that you have a good relationship with food bloggers. How did that come about and how have they helped you?
Lefebvre:
When I started my LudoBites in 2007, I had no way to promote what I was doing. You don't have the time to call the L.A. Times or a magazine and say, "Hey, I'm doing a special event next week." They don't have time to print. But I remember the first week we opened LudoBites, I saw all of these people with cameras. I said to [my wife] Krissy, "Who are these people taking pictures?" It was not very common in 2007, you know? ... So I always say that LudoBites was successful because of bloggers who created a buzz on the Internet. It was crazy. That's why I'm successful now. That's why it's funny that I picked a blogger on my team, Sarah.

If you weren't a chef, what do you think you would do?
Lefebvre:
I would be a designer for gardens, a landscape architect. I love plants. Or I'd love to be a painter. I love to paint Basquiat style, Jean-Michel Basquiat. It's very difficult to be a chef because you create one dish and so many people are touching the dish after you. You have no choice; you cannot do everything yourself. Sometimes you create a dish and you teach your staff, but sometimes they make a mistake and the dish is not the way you want it. So we get very, very frustrated. But what I like about when you paint, you're alone. Nobody touches your canvas.

You were recently in Hawaii and learned to cook the local cuisine, but there was one popular ingredient I heard you didn't use on your menu: SPAM. What are your thoughts on SPAM?
Lefebvre:
You know, people love SPAM in Hawaii. They grew up with that, I understand. But it's just not my thing. I think it's too salty for me and I don't understand how people love SPAM. I just don't get it. I don't get any inspiration to cook with SPAM. Maybe I'd do a good sandwich croque madame or burger, like when you have a hangover. But not to have a good meal, no.

Are you sick of eating bites out of one spoon now that you've done so many tastings on The Taste?
Lefebvre:
A little bit. But a lot of people have asked me, "Chef, if you were a contestant on The Taste, what spoon would you do?" I have no idea. It's so difficult to put one dish in one spoon, to balance. We eat some dish on the show like lasagna or pasta but it wasn't the right amount of pasta or cheese or tomato. So you need to be very smart about what to put on the spoon. It's not that easy.

Watch this exclusive video below in which Lefebvre shares his favorite American foods and tune in for The Taste on Tuesday, 8/7c on ABC:

A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • Princess Diana's Will Revealed: See What She Left Princes William and Harry

    Princess Diana's will has been revealed nearly 18 years after her tragic 1997 death -- details on what she left her sons Princes William and Harry

    Us Weekly
  • Cissy Houston Says Bobbi Kristina Has 'Irreversible Brain Damage'

    Cissy Houston gave a health update on the condition of Bobbi Kristina Brown on Monday, and while she says her granddaughter is out of a medically induced coma, she remains "unresponsive." "I have just returned from visiting my granddaughter Bobbi Kristina in the hospital and while she is no longer…

    ETonline
  • Charlize Theron Doesn't Want Women To Be Afraid Of Aging

    The pressure society puts on women is not lost on Charlize Theron. The 39-year-old star appears on the latest cover of W magazine and opens up about why choosing to be a mom in her 30s has given her a new perspective on getting older. “I think, like many women, I was judgmental toward women as they…

    Huffington Post
  • Ariana Grande, Big Sean Split After 8 Months of Dating: Breakup Details

    Ariana Grande and Big Sean have split after eight months of dating, their reps confirm exclusively to Us Weekly -- find out what went wrong here

    Us Weekly
  • View

    Famous Musicians and Their Rock Star Kids (14 photos)

    On April 29 at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will live stream Zappa Plays Zappa's concert from the House of Blues in Dallas. Tune in HERE to watch! Most times, music never leaves the family; the children of legendary artists are bound to want to follow in their parents' incredibly talented,…

    Yahoo Music
  • Kylie Jenner Had a Seriously Scantily Clad Coachella

    Is this what the 17 year olds are wearing these days? Kylie Jenner managed to one-up herself and even her sister's skin-baring styles when she celebrated the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. by wearing a strange see-through, black bikini number. …

    ETonline
  • NFL Mock Draft 7.0: Five teams that can shake up round one

    Spending oodles of time attempting to project the first round of the NFL Draft is bizarre enough (Some take that extra crazy step with two and three rounds which apparently leads to musically themed articles). Titans (2) - Believe the hype that quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will go…

    Comcast SportsNet Mid Atlantic
  • Beware: A New Pic of Jared Leto's Green Hair Will Fuel Nightmares

    We have new photos of @JaredLeto stepping out with his green #SuicideSquad hair! See here: http://t.co/ECSrU8TlyU pic.twitter.com/0v3oLTRJ8r— JustJared.com (@JustJared) April 20, 2015

    Racked
  • Sarah Bolger Supports Natalie Dormer’s Call for More ‘Game of Thrones’ Male Nudity

    Game of Thrones stars Natalie Dormer, Carice van Houten, and even Kit Harington -- though, just not from him -- have advocated for more male nudity, citing the major lack in equality when it comes to disrobing on the HBO series. And that call doesn’t just come from the show’s stars. Anna Kendrick…

    ETonline57 mins ago
  • Randy Travis Quietly Married Longtime Fiancee Mary Davis

    Hours after Randy Travis got a standing ovation at the 2015 ACM Awards, the singer's rep confirmed to Us Weekly that he quietly married fiancee Mary Davis

    Us Weekly
  • Fuller House Officially Snags 13-Episode Order at Netflix — Get Details on the Cast and (Widow?!) Storyline

    It’s official: The Tanners are back! Confirming TVLine’s scoop dated April 2, Netflix has placed a 13-episode order for Fuller House, a multi-cam continuation of the ABC smash Full House. Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber are set to star, reprising their roles as D.J.…

    TVLine.com
  • The Voice Recap: Muting and the Beasts

    The Voice is not typically known for tough criticism. On any given night, the coaches’ critiques range from “Your vocal was smoother than a blanket made from a unicorn’s underbelly!” to “You took me through a dozen cycles of life, death and reincarnation (as a unicorn’s underbelly) in the course of…

    TVLine.com
  • Play

    DeAndre Jordan Unveils New Batmobile

    DeAndre Jordan is a huge Batman fan. The Los Angeles clippers star recently got a closeup of the new Batmobile thanks to the folks over at Bleacher Report. Jordan channeled his inner Bruce Wayne with some help from his stylist before embarking on the exciting day.

    The Fumble
  • Beyoncé is wearing a gold Apple Watch band that you can't buy

    Nowhere on Apple's website will you find a solid gold link bracelet for the Apple Watch. Jony Ive never mentions it at any point in this video describing the gold watch's creation. On two occasions now, high-profile early owners of Cupertino's first smartwatch have been photographed wearing a gold…

    The Verge
  • ‘Real Housewives’ Star Kim Richards Opens Up About Her Arrest: ‘The Whole Night Was All My Fault’

    “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kim Richards has broken her silence about her battle with alcoholism and recent arrest following a drunken meltdown in an interview with Dr. Phil. “I was angry and frightened and I was scared,” Richards told Dr. Phil regarding her arrest on April 16. Richards…

    The Wrap
  • Ref gives death stare and reaches for red card, ends player mob

    Meet Bakary Gassama, who we're naming the most badass referee in professional soccer. Al-Ahly's players were furious about calls not going their way at the end of their CAF Champions League match against Moghreb Tétouan, but Gassama gives them a death stare and reaches for the red, then MOB OVER.

    SB Nation
  • Dancing with the Stars: Who Got Sent Home?

    The dance: For whatever reason, Patti seems to have loosened up a little bit this week - maybe a little too much, as she accidentally kicks off one of her shoes mid-routine. Bruno thought the dance was fun, and Carrie Ann tells Patti she's the most consistent contestant, and says maybe the one-shoe…

    TV Guide
  • Blake Lively's Sheer Bodysuit Leaves Us Starry-Eyed

    Blake Lively was covered in stars when she stepped out for the "Age of Adaline" premiere after-party in New York City Sunday night. Lively looked gorgeous in a sheer black bodysuit smattered with stars worn under a black overcoat from the Monique Lhuillier Fall 2015 collection, The Cut noted. It…

    Huffington Post
  • Hey Mama? Nicki Minaj Disappoints at Coachella Weekend Two

    Nicki Minaj walked on-stage during two separate shows yesterday – David Guetta and Drake - drawing cheers from a crowd that obviously expected her to perform. However, disappointingly, Nicki’s appearance was only that – an appearance.

    Live Nation