“You don’t come to eat anything specific here,” wrote Los Angeles Times critic Jonathan Gold of chef Ludo Lefebvre’s restaurant Trois Mec. “You come to eat Lefebvre’s food.” It’s true that Lefebvre is a classically trained French chef, having spent a dozen years in the kitchens of some of the most respected chefs in France, including Marc Meneau at Restaurant L’Esperance, Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous restaurant, Alain Passard at Arpège, and Guy Martin at Le Grande Vefour. And Lefebvre brought it all with him to L.A. from France in 1996, when he took over restaurant L’Orangerie at the age of 25 and subsequently made it one of California’s top rated. But it’s Lefebvre’s inventiveness combined with his great skill that has garnered him praise from every corner of the food world. He brought molecular gastronomy to L.A. at restaurant Bastide and did a series of pop-ups in other chefs’ kitchens as LudoBites. “Cooking is all about taking risks and learning everyday!” he’s said. “If I am not learning, I get bored.”

So at Trois Mec—which landed on the best-of lists of EsquireGQ, and Los Angeles magazines—you may have a Japanese-inspired dish of avocado and cod-infused cream over sushi rice; or an Indian take on scallops, cooked tandoori style; or maybe even a finely constructed dish of potato “pulp” served as a main course. Next door, at Petit Trois, which Lefebvre opened in 2014, it’s all about classic bistro food, like omelets and croque monsieur, and sole meunière cooked impeccably. And at the Staples Center, the chef took on the most all-American of foods when he opened his fried-chicken joint LudoBird.

Another way Lefebvre has avoided boredom is by diving into television appearances, on Top Chef in 2009; on Iron Chef; on a 2011 series, Ludo Bites America, which also starred his wife, Krissy; and as a judge on a three-season run of the ABC show The Taste.

In 2005, Lefebvre published his first cookbook, Crave, A Feast of the Five Senses, and in 2012 followed up with LudoBites, Recipes and Stories from the Pop-Up Restaurants of Ludo Lefebvre.