Four months ago, in April, French-born, Los Angeles-based chef Ludo Lefebvre took a road trip to eastern Colorado, where he shot, skinned and butchered a bison. To show his respect for the beast, he then dropped to his knees and took a bite of its heart, still warm and oozing with blood.
Hours later, at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, Ludo, along with owner Jim Pittenger and his line crew, utilized the bison in several dishes, serving it to hundreds of people, all of whom were being filmed by producers from the Sundance Channel, the network that's launching Ludo Bites America, a six-episode series in which Ludo and his wife, Krissy, a Denver native, travel to six American cities, including Santa Fe, New Mexico; Omaha, Nebraska; Mobile, Alabama; and Denver, transforming no-frills spaces into temporary pop-up restaurants with lofty menus.
Ludo and Krissy spent five days in Colorado, where they also visited the Buckhorn Exchange and Black Cat Organic Farm, the Niwot land owned by Eric Skokan, the chef of Boulder's Black Cat Farm Table Bistro. Vegetables and herbs from his harvest were prominent sidekicks to the bison dishes that Ludo and Jim, who had assistance from Root Down and Linger chef Daniel Asher as well as chef James Mazzio, pumped out during the dinner.
The Denver episode premieres tonight at 10 p.m., and you can watch it, bloody footage and all, at Biker Jim's, when he hosts a viewing party. "I hope they edited out all of my goofy shit and left in all of the good, fun staff," quips Jim. "A big part of me hopes that they don't crank up the drama," he adds, noting that it was "a big challenge for everyone, especially since we'd only been open for ten days when the filming crew got here, and all of us here were still trying to figure out which toilet we were supposed to piss in."
I've seen a rough cut of the footage, and I can tell you that Ludo yells -- a lot. He also says that Jim "looks high all the time." And, where, asks Ludo, in his thick French accent, is his sense of urgency? "Jim is slow," concludes Ludo, who clearly hasn't seen Jim at high noon, with a line a mile long, slinging dogs from his cart on the 16th Street Mall.
In any case, in honor of the occasion, Jim will offer a $10 special that includes a Stranahan's Colorado old-fashioned cocktail, which was poured at the pop-up dinner, along with a buffalo au poivre dog. "We'll start slinging dogs around 10, when the show airs, and we'll stay open until we kick everyone out," he jokes.