Exclusive: Chef Ludo Takes Us Inside His Hip L.A. Mexican Eatery
There’s something about Kiernan Shipka. Her sophisticated persona, high intelligence, and sharp wit belie her youth. In fact, it’s hard to believe the Mad Men actress is only 16. Shipka has an old soul and impeccable taste in everything from fashion to food. So you can imagine her delight when we asked the talented teen to join one of L.A.’s top French chefs, Ludo Lefebvre, for a cooking lesson in his new French-Mexican café, Trois Familia.
Turns out Shipka is a big fan of Ludo’s. She’s a regular at his cutting-edge fine-dining experience, Trois Mec, and lives close to his popular Parisian restaurant Petit Trois. Despite her creative savvy on set, Shipka told MyDomaine that cooking isn’t something she’s really given much practice. But with a little help from Chef Ludo’s culinary insights, the talented ingénue now has a promising career in the world’s top kitchens (which we doubt she’ll ever take up, given her astronomic rise in showbiz), we even have the proof on film. Read on to hear how the two first met, what makes a French burrito French, and the strangest ingredient pairings they both love right now.
MYDOMAINE: Tell us the story of how you two met.
KIERNAN SHIPKA: Right now! Right here, right now.
CHEF LUDO: I met you a few years ago. You don’t remember?
KS: No? What happened? I would have remembered because I’m a big fan.
CL: No, I met you first on TV of course. When I was watching Mad Men.
KS: Oh, of course. We didn’t literally meet.
CL: But no, what I mean is that we knew each other, but it was more like on Instagram and social media, you know? Then she would always come to my restaurant, and I’m never there. [Laughs]
MD: What makes your Trois Familia bean burrito so different from other bean burritos?
CL: First of all, it’s French, so we use a lot of butter, but brown butter.
KS: Yes, a lot of butter. So much! [Laughs]
MD: What your favorite part about the whole process of cooking together?
CL: Make sure we get along with each other first, and make sure she understands me when I talk.
KS: This is true. [Laughs] I don’t know how to make a crêpe; I don’t know how to make anything. So this is learning from the best.
CL: Maybe I will show you how to do an omelet real quick.
KS: I mean, you make the best omelet. I would love to learn. I just don’t cook a lot.
KS: Because you have great restaurants, so I don’t need to. I live close to Petit Trois, so there’s absolutely no reason.
MD: Talk us through the dishes that you cooked together today and why you chose them.
CL: I wanted to show her how to make our bean burrito because it’s more like a French and Mexican fusion. I also wanted to show her how to make a crêpe, but if you ever want me to show you something else, let me know.
KS: No, I’m so happy. The bean burrito is my favorite thing on the menu. It’s so, so good.
MD: What inspires you to cook?
CL: I think it’s mostly from life and from people I meet and through the restaurant, but it’s also ingredients. Good ingredients are key to great cooking, and inspiration, you know. When I get some beautiful tomatoes, I’m very excited. I think, What am I going to do with that? But also the people and the culture inspire my cooking.
Trois Familia’s building was previously home to a very famous restaurant called Alegria, and the owner, Nadine, was here for a long time. When she decided to sell her place to us, I could see she had a broken heart because she had it for a long time. I felt bad, you know, so that’s why I decided to keep it a little bit Mexican just to honor her. We do that in France too. We keep the Mexican in homage to Nadine.
MD: What is your favorite dish at Trois Familia?
KS: Oh man, there are so many. I think the potato tacos rank up there with me. They’re so special.
CL: Yes, a lot of people love the potato taco.
MD: Do you have a personal favorite that you love to cook?
CL: No. Well, it changes all the time. I don’t know what it’s like with acting, but sometimes I love to cook a burrito, and next month it’s something else. I think maybe with acting it’s the same: Sometimes you love TV, and then it’s something else. I love to cook everything. Sometimes I will have months where I really want to cook vegetables; sometimes I want to cook more meat. You know, it changes.
MD: What do you love most about dining here?
KS: I think it makes it special that everyone who’s here is so excited to be here. You can tell everyone is really pumped about the food. The music is fantastic, and obviously, the food is awesome, but the music is great. The whole vibe is fun.
MD: What are the strangest ingredient pairings that you love right now?
CL: Using seaweed for dessert.
KS: What’s on the rice pudding Trois Mec? Is that seaweed?
CL: Yes, it’s seaweed. Ah, she knows!
KS: Yeah I do know. Very good.
CL: We use wakame seaweed. It’s a little bit saltier, so that’s why it goes very well with dessert. You know, that sweet and salty pairing. It’s all about finding something that’s different than salt but is still salty, especially with dessert. Have you ever tried my panna cotta caviar?
KS: No, I’ve never had it.
CL: It’s like vanilla and caramel, but we don’t put salt; we put caviar because caviar is salty.
MD: French and Mexican—not two cuisines that you often find together. What inspired the fusion?
CL: I think it’s a very, very comfortable food, and people know that the food isn’t that complicated. Of course it’s not really classic Mexican. I’m not Mexican, so I don’t really know how to do the perfect mole, but it’s more about me using French techniques and adding some Mexican flavor. We use a lot of avocado and jalapeño, but it’s more playful. There’s nothing really fancy. That’s why I think people like it. I mean, look at the potato taco. It’s very simple: potato, garlic, butter, cheese, taco, and that’s it.
KS: And those carrots though. The carrots are so good.
CL: Oh yes, and the sauce. The sauce! In France, we do a lot of shredded carrot salads with a lot of olive oil, vinegar, spice, and herbs.
MD: How do you test new dish ideas to see if they’ll work?
CL: Sometimes we try it on the staff and sometimes it’s more about instinct. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes people like it, and sometimes they don’t. When you cook with instinct, sometimes it’s like that. You take risks. I know how to cook safe food; I know how to do that. Trois Mec is all about trying to surprise people with unusual flavors and combinations. So most of the time I test with the staff.
I made a lot of mistakes as a young chef because I didn’t taste a lot of my food. It sounds beautiful on paper, but now I have an open mind. I make sure I test all of my food. Before, when I was younger, I was cooking with instinct, and I would just put the food on the menu.
MD: What is one skill that you want to take away from this experience?
KS: The skill of cooking because it’s not one I currently possess. Genuinely, I am not great in the kitchen because I haven’t really given it much practice, so I’m pretty excited.
Feeling inspired to get in the kitchen and whip up some French food at home? Well, you're in luck because Chef Ludo kindly shared his exclusive recipes with MyDomaine so you too can cook like Kiernan and create Trois Familia’s signature French Burrito and Sweet Crêpes yourself.
12-inch tortillas (flour)
Pinto bean mix
Pico de gallo
Garlic brown butter
Pinto Bean Mix Ingredients:
4 cans pinto beans, whole cooked, liquid drained
2 qt. garlic water
1 cup lemon supremes, diced
2 cups preserved lemons, diced
4 tbsp. wakame
6 cups garlic brown butter, melted and warm
In a large Lexan container, gently mix together the beans, garlic water, lemon supremes, preserved lemons, wakame, and garlic brown butter. Be careful not to break the beans. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Garlic Brown Butter Ingredients:
3 sticks of butter
2 cups of garlic, finely chopped
Slowly brown the butter and garlic together in a saucepan. The color of the butter should be like the skin of a hazelnut.
Pico de Gallo Ingredients:
1 Red onion, brunoise
1 Tomato, brunoise
Serrano pepper, minced, with seeds (enough that you can see serrano, but not overly spicy)
Mix all in a bowl to combine.
Garlic Water Ingredients:
1 pint garlic, peeled and smashed
1 gallon water
Put everything in a pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Lightly fry a tortilla on the plancha to loosen. On a plate, lay the warm tortilla place two slices of American cheese, 3 teaspoons of pico, 2 teaspoons of garlic brown butter and roughly 6 ounces of warm beans. Roll the burrito, and sear off on the plancha. Smear garlic brown butter on the top of the burrito.
You will need:
Sweet Crepe Batter Ingredients:
12 eggs, whole
10 1/2 ounces sugar
2 lbs. AP flour
67 z. whole milk
2 vanilla beans, seeded
Mix eggs, sugar and milk together. Stir in the flour and vanilla seeds and stir very well to combine.
Suzette Sauce Ingredients:
19 oz. orange juice
11 oz. sugar
4 oz. Gran Marnier
14 oz. butter
Heat the orange juice, sugar, and Gran Marnier in a saucepan until the sugar is melted. Turn the heat to low, and slowly add the butter to emulsify.
3 cups heavy cream
12 oz. sugar
1.5 tsp. vanilla
Put the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip on low speed to stiff peaks.
Strawberry Jam Ingredients:
Strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Black pepper, ground
Mix the strawberries and sugar in a rondeau, and let sit for one hour. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the strawberry mixture, and set over low heat stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Test a small amount by placing some on a frozen plate. If the mixture is very thick and can stand up without pooling, it is done. Add the lime juice and black pepper to taste.
On a clean, dry crêpe maker (no oil), ladle 6 ounces of crêpe batter slightly off the middle. Working quickly with an offset cake spatula, spread a thin layer of the batter across the surface. Six ounces should be able to cover nearly the entire area. The crepe should cook for roughly 1.5 to 2 minutes and should be flexible and a golden brown in color.
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