L.A. chef Ludo Lefebvre creates a French-style outdoor dinner starring steak, fries, and beautiful salads
“When I have people over, I don’t overdo it. I want to spend time with my guests, so I cook simple food,” says Ludo Lefebvre, the French-born chef behind L.A. restaurants Trois Mec, Petit Trois, Trois Familia, and LudoBird. For this dinner party at the Griffith Park home of his friend Michael Sherman, an indie-movie producer, he prepared the classic French dish, steak frites, along with a beautiful collection of salads—and wine. Plenty of wine. The patio of Sherman's 1929 Spanish-style home is the perfect setting for Ludo's relaxed dinner party. Bright pillows and Sherman's rainbow of Eames chairs bring a pop of color to the setting, while string lights add a little magic. Restoration Hardware for RH Modern Paros Dining Table in Natural Teak. AREOhome.com Spencer Cups from HomArt, from $7. enSoie for pillows, from $180, and “Relief” Votive Pyramid in gold, $55. Crate & Barrel for Vintage Edison Bulb Outdoor String Lights, $49.95. Design Within Reach for Eames molded plastic wire-base side chair, from $329.
Lefebvre prepares as much as possible before the guests show up, catching up with Sherman as he cooks. They met almost 10 years ago, when Sherman worked as a waiter for Lefebvre’s pop-up dinner series, Ludo Bites, and stayed in touch as both of their careers took off: Today Sherman owns Bow & Arrow Entertainment, has made 21 movies, and is a serious collector of contemporary art. Lost & Found for Wonki Ware Serving Bowl, from $22.
Small seating areas scattered around the yard provide intimate spaces for conversation before dinner. Here, guest Eric Wareheim, an actor and writer who stars in the Netflix series “Master of None,” chats with artist Sam Borkson. Both are big Lefebvre fans. “Where Ludo cooks, we eat,” says Wareheim. Crate & Barrel for Eddy 11oz Everyday Stacking Glass, $2.95 each.
Large white lounge chairs give guests—including visual artist Friedrich Kunath and his wife, photographer Maggie Kunath—a spot to kick back, and oversized lanterns let the party go into the evening. Nickey Kehoe for Cote Pierre Overdyed French Pillows, $195 each. Restoration Hardware for Cardiff Lanterns in brass, from $95 each.
Wines for the party are from Helen Johannesen, the beverage director for Trois Mec and Petit Trois as well as the restaurants Jon & Vinny’s, Animal, and Son of a Gun. Her shop, Helen’s Wines—a tiny place tucked in the back of Jon & Vinny’s—is one of the hottest wine shops in the city. She chose a fine yet affordable selection for the party: A chilled Commaderie de Peyrassol 2015 Rosé (Côtes de Provence; $22) to start, followed by Soliste 2013 "Lune et Soleil" Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc (Lake County; $25) and Jean-Louis Dutraive 2014 Fleurie Clos de la Grand'Cour (Beaujolais; $50). Crate & Barrel for Eddy 11oz. Everyday Stacking Glasses, $2.95 each. CB2 for Marta Double Old-Fashioned glasses, $1.95 each, and Marta Tasting Glasses, $1.50. Lauguiole for Château Rosewood Corkscrew, $195.
Keeping the guest list small allows for an easy flow of conversation—and food. Platters of Lefebvre's steak and salads get passed around the table (as Sherman’s dog, Joker, politely scrounges for crumbs below).
Sherman’s house is filled with art that ranges from provocative to serene. The tabletop décor, like these quirky bronze candlesticks, brings the same dose of personality. enSoie for Juan and José Candlesticks in bronze by Rafael Palacio Illingworth, $320 each, and Globe Votive with Flowers in gold, $65.
The loose, summery arrangements of ranunculus are from Sherman's friend and party guest Barrett Prendergast, the owner of Valleybrink Road, a boutique catering and luxury box company.
Sherman's close friend Ellen Pompeo, star of Grey’s Anatomy (center)—a passionate cook herself—enjoys the party with husband, music producer Chris Ivery (left).
Lefebvre’s steak frites, a childhood favorite and a staple on his menu at Petit Trois, is the star of this dinner party. Get the recipe and see why this dish matters to him. Lost & Found for Linge Particulier Window Pane Napkin, $20 each. Crate & Barrel for Aspen Dinner Plate, $4.95. Laguiole Steak Knife with Rosewood Handle, $598.
Lefebvre buys all his produce at the farmers’ market, and invents salads based on what he finds there. For this tomato salad, he cut red and yellow tomatoes into chunks, salted them and let them drain, and then combined them with fresh Italian and Thai basil leaves, slivered red onion, and sherry vinegar dressing. Then he showered toasted fresh breadcrumbs on top. Maison Midi for Salad Bowl, $89.95.