'The Taste's' Ludo Lefebvre: 'I am not here to be nice with you'

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On ABC's "The Taste," Ludo Lefebvre comes off as imperious to the burgeoning chefs he's mentoring but also passionate about cooking.

In an interview, he's much more relaxed and even more passionate about cooking.

"I am not here to be nice with you," he tells Zap2it, referring to a cook on his team. "It is a competition. I want a star. How it is in the kitchen -- it is not that easy."

Cooking on a timetable is stressful, and Lefebvre acknowledges that even when he cooks at home, he worries about timing a meal so all dishes hit the table simultaneously.

Cooking is all he ever wanted to do, he says with such a heavy French cadence that his English sounds French. His grandmother, an accomplished home chef, was such a huge influence that he knew by 10 he wanted to be a chef.

"I love to make crepes with my grandma," Lefebvre says. "My mom was always working. I spend all my day with my grandma, and she loved to cook and take care of the house and the kids. My grandpa has a big, big, big garden, and every day he would bring back a lot of vegetables.

"Every day, I was doing my homework in kitchen, and my grandma was cooking at the same time," Lefebvre continues. "She was so serious. I just love to watch her -- the way she moves, the smells."

Lefebvre trained and worked in restaurants before opening pop-up restaurants in Los Angeles. Though he is credited with starting that trend, it evolved because a friend's bakery/cafe was empty at night, and he needed a space.

Like the true French chef he is, Lefebvre waxes poetic about butter. "How do you do mashed potatoes in France?" he asks. "One kilo of potato and one kilo of butter."

And how do the French stay thin?

"We don't eat big amounts of mashed potatoes," he says. "Two spoons and you are done."

•What are you currently reading?
"I am reading a French cookbook by Michelle Gerhard, a very, very old chef."

•What did you have for dinner last night?
"Bad food, because I was at the Grammys; you go to a private suite. Fried chicken, not very good, swimming in maple syrup. Everything is cold. I eat a lot of spicy cheese popcorn."

•What is your next project?
"I am opening a restaurant next month in West Hollywood. No more pop-ups now. I don't want to move anymore. It is time for me to have my own kitchen. Traveling is nice, but you get tired. I want my own staff and kitchen."

•When was the last vacation you took - where and why?
"I was in Denmark, in Copenhagen, to eat at some restaurants. I am always looking at what is going on, what people are doing. That is why I love my job. I do not know everything."
Photo/Video credit: ABC