Earlier this summer, the Montage Beverly Hills debuted a three-month seasonal pop-up with one of Los Angeles’ most influential chefs, Ludo Lefebvre, and Gilles Epié, the youngest chef to ever receive a Michelin star.
Billed as the “Summer of Ludo & Gilles,” they should have called it “The Summer of Amour” since their culinary residency has transported guests and locals to the South of France with a Gallic-inspired food menu and a comprehensive rosé list. For something a little more casual, Beverly Hills was also treated to a LudoBird pop-up which features Chef Ludo’s signature fried chicken sandwiches with “The Original” Buttermilk Provencal. If you know, you know.
Over a decade ago, Chef Ludo was one of the front runners of the pop-up phenomenon when he founded LudoBites, after successful stints at more formal French eateries such as now-defunct Bastide. He surprised Los Angeles once again by opening up a tiny gastronomic multi-course venture in an old strip mall space off Highland Avenue when critics were claiming that “fine dining was dead.” A prestigious Michelin-star followed for Trois Mec in the 2019 California guide. Right next door to that lauded option is his à la carte bistro, Petit Trois, and what is arguably the most-Instagrammed food plate in local history, the perfectly simple omelet with Boursin cheese and liberal nobs of French butter.
Joining Chef Ludo in The Restaurant’s kitchen is friend and award-winning French chef, Gilles Epié, who is making a grand debut back to Beverly Hills after a 16-year hiatus from his restaurant Citrus Ètoile Paris Champs Elysèes, to collaborate with Chef Ludo for the pop-up concept. The two accomplished chefs met when Chef Ludo worked for Chef Gilles at Mobil Travel Guide Five Star Award-winning L’Orangerie, where Chef Gilles was named Best Chef in America of 1996 by Food & Wine Magazine.
So, what’s the result when two powerhouse formidable French chefs bring their favorite dishes from the French Riviera to The Restaurant at the Montage Hotel? This site has flipped a few times since opening with East Coast-based chef Scott Conant’s Scarpetta to most recently, Geoffrey Zakarian’s Georgie. Fortunately, we still have a few more weeks to engage in this full sensory experience, including French music wafting out over indoor-outdoor seating overlooking the Beverly Canon Garden. We caught up with both chefs to find out how this concept was hatched, what to expect and more importantly, what to order during the last days of Ludo and Gilles.
BHC: How did this concept begin and when did you decide to collaborate with Chef Gilles?
Chef Ludo: I have been working with the team at Montage for a couple of years now to figure out how we could do something together. We kept discussing opportunities outside of LA and then one day the team realized that the opportunity was sitting right in front of us. I have been wanting to do a south of France concept restaurant for a very long time. So, when the Montage team approached me about doing something over the summer in Beverly Hills, it just made sense. The space is beautiful, the garden-park area is very European so why not bring the south of France to Beverly Hills? Nothing says summer in France like Côte d’Azur. My dear friend Gilles Epiéwas moving back to Los Angeles, so it was perfect timing to build this project together.
BHC: How have guests and locals been reacting to the summer pop-up?
Chef Gilles: When we opened the pop-up, we knew it was going to be successful. But it’s much more successful than we actually anticipated. The restaurant is always full and the guests are extremely happy. Guests are always telling us how amazing they think the pop-up is. They love the food, the atmosphere, the waiter’s outfits, and we even get compliments on our music. Seeing all these joyful guests reminds me every day of why I became a chef. It’s always an honor and a pleasure to put smiles on people’s faces.
Chef Ludo: Guests have been so wonderful. When creating a concept, you hope that the audience understands and appreciates it. Restaurants can be really tough at times, but the guests at Summer of Ludo and Gilles have made this a truly fantastic experience. The most common thing we have heard from guests is that “this” is exactly what Beverly Hills was missing. It feels so nice to hear that something so near and dear to our hearts is exactly what the appetites of the community have been craving.
Any favorite dishes? What have the guests been gravitating towards?
Chef Gilles: I love everything on the menu. Ludo and I have worked very hard to maintain a high standard and these recipes are our all-time favorites. The most popular dish is the Scrambled Eggs & Caviar, which is personally my favorite. My second favorite is the Beef Provençale with Basil Mashed Potatoes, a dish that is often overlooked and isn’t very popular. I think that anyone coming for the first time should order one of these two dishes.
Chef Ludo: The hors d’oeuvres cart which comes with 12 different salads and is accompanied by dipping breads has been really popular. Guests also really seem to be enjoying the fish soup as well. My favorite thing on the menu is the grilled prawns with garlic butter and fresh herbs. It’s very simple but so delicious!
Would you ever consider doing another project in Beverly Hills again? Chef Gilles: I would absolutely consider it. Beverly Hills is one of the greatest places to be because the people are very friendly and the weather is fantastic. I think that Beverly Hills aligns perfectly with my vision of cuisine and quite honestly, it’s become essential to my creativity. You want to be in a beautiful, positive environment when you are creating new recipes.
Chef Ludo: The Beverly Hills audience has been really welcoming and appreciative. It has been so nice to be embraced by the community so quickly. We would absolutely do it again.
BHC: We’ll be waiting.
Summer of Ludo & Gilles is open Monday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. LudoBird is open for lunch and quick bites Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out) until September 30, 2019. 225 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, Ca 90210 (310) 860-7970 www.montagehotels.com/beverlyhills.