Inside French Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Latest Restaurant

Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s household was rocked by tragedy when his mother-in-law, Margaret Stewart Braun, died in a automobile accident attributable to a drunk driver in Colorado in 2019. Practically three years later, the Los Angeles-based Lefebvres are nonetheless grappling with the loss, however have discovered a solution to channel their grief into a brand new mission that honors Braun’s reminiscence.

The chef is opening Chez Maggy on the new Thompson Denver lodge within the metropolis’s Decrease Downtown neighborhood, his first foray exterior of Los Angeles and the luxurious lodge model’s first location within the Centennial State. The French brasserie-style restaurant opens this week, only a few days forward of the lodge.

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Maggy is one other nickname for Margaret, who was Lefebvre’s spouse’s stepmother, or “bonus mother,” as Krissy Lefebvre affectionately referred to as her.

Ludo, Krissy and their 10-year-old twins, Rêve and Luca, frequently visited Colorado to spend time with Margaret and Krissy’s father, Invoice. Likewise, Margaret usually traveled to the Lefebvres’ house in Los Angeles to care for the kids when Ludo and Krissy wanted to journey with out them.

Chef Ludo Lefebvre. - Credit: Photo: courtesy Lionel DeLuy

Picture: courtesy Lionel DeLuy

Margaret wasn’t the most effective prepare dinner—she principally ready frozen meals, Lefebvre remembered fondly—however she did make “some good bolognese,” he says.

“I used to be very shut along with her,” Lefebvre says. “We had been all very shut along with her. She was an enormous a part of our life. After we had been on the lookout for a reputation and a narrative for the restaurant, it got here from the center. She was at all times an enormous fan of me and at all times supportive of me.”

The 90-seat lobby-level eatery, the lodge’s signature restaurant, will mix Lefebvre’s basic French model with mountain-inspired substances and preparations. Whereas crafting the menu, Lefebvre targeted on the kinds of easy, expertly ready dishes he seeks out in his house nation—steak tartare, trout almondine, onion soup, steak frites and pâté, for instance.

“I actually wished to come back to Denver and produce a little bit little bit of the French tradition, the factor I understand how to do nicely,” he says. “I’m not going to create a elaborate restaurant with loopy dishes, no, it’s going to be very basic, the meals individuals get after they go eat in a superb bistro in Paris.”

He additionally wished to play with substances that signify the American West. As a substitute of boeuf bourguignon, he’s doing bison bourguignon; Lefebvre can be making bison tartare. He plans to prepare dinner with seasonal Colorado produce because it turns into accessible, altering out 30 to 40 p.c of the menu each few months.

Inside the new Chez Maggy. - Credit: Photo: courtesy Shayla Phillips

Picture: courtesy Shayla Phillips

The chef put his personal French spin on the basic burger, which he calls his Burger à la Française. It encompasses a black pepper gravy sauce, pickled mustard seeds, smoked mayo and French Comté cheese served on a Brioche bun.

“You want a fork and knife to eat it,” he says.

He’s additionally upgrading the Denver omelet—historically made with bell pepper, onions, ham and cheddar cheese—by swapping in fondue and making ready it the French method. The cheese fondue, well-liked within the French Alps, is a delicate nod to Colorado’s mountain ranges.

“The omelet could be very smooth, like custard—smooth and fluffy,” he says.

Lefebvre, who likes to hike and ski, notably at Keystone Ski Resort, had been desirous to open a Denver restaurant for years when he discovered of Thompson Accommodations’ plans for Colorado. In Thompson, Lefebvre says he discovered an awesome companion for bringing his Mile Excessive goals to fruition.

“They’re younger, very, very enjoyable to work with and, a very powerful factor, they offer me every little thing I want they usually let me do what I would like—they actually need to make sure that I’m profitable,” he says.

The croque monsieur. - Credit: Photo: courtesy Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine

Picture: courtesy Marc Fiorito with Gamma 9

The lodge, designed by New York’s Components and Labor, incorporates city, mid-century fashionable and mountain chalet kinds, creating a classy, Western-inspired setting for vacationers to unwind.

Because of a partnership with Victrola, which has been making document gamers since 1906 and lately moved its headquarters to Denver, the lodge is outfitting each visitor room with a turntable and making a public “listening lounge,” full with a curated number of vinyl information, on the sixth flooring. Company can jam out earlier than or after a go to to the alpine-inspired cocktail bar, Reynard Social, positioned on the identical flooring.

Although he’ll be only a two-hour flight away in Los Angeles, Lefebvre will lean closely on the skills of the lodge’s govt chef Chase Wilbanks, a Colorado native with strong French and positive eating expertise. Lefebvre can be wanting ahead to spending much more time in Denver and changing into enmeshed within the metropolis’s culinary scene, which he already admires.

“I’m going to deliver a variety of butter to Denver,” he mentioned.

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