Chef Ludo Lefebvre helped create the food truck community that’s taken the world by storm. After spending years toiling in high-class kitchens across France and America, Lefebvre turned his eye towards cooking for the masses. He was tired of his food only being enjoyed by the elite and ‘in-the-know’ of the culinary world. To remedy this, Lefebvre and his wife created Ludo Truck — serving fried chicken with a solid foundation in French technical excellence.
It was a massive hit and helped solidify Chef Lefebvre as the future of sustainable cuisine, so it makes sense that the culinary star would be at the forefront of bringing food trucks to the next level. Earlier this year, Chef Lefebvre decided to join a team of STEM students. The students were challenged to re-imagine the food truck experience using the six bright energy ideas supported by Shell’s #makethefuture campaign. Instead of running the Hackathon with a winner take all mentality, the judges decided to take the best ideas and tech from each truck.
The idea was to make a tech-savvy food truck that’s repeatable by any would-be food truck chef. The students were set with the task of integrating current and future tech into a functional food truck with Lefebvre creating the menu. It’d be called the Shell Synergy Truck.
“I think it’s important to be responsible about energy and sustainability right now,” Lefebvre told us when we caught up with him in New York this month. “To collaborate with young people, with students, to build a green truck is being responsible right now as a chef. We need to build trucks where we’re going to save the planet.”
It doesn’t end with just making a green truck. This is Ludo Lefebvre after all. The crux of this plan is to make sure the food is going to keep you longing for more. So, while the students were building out their trucks, Lefebvre was building out a menu that would catch eyes, Instas, and, most of all, tastebuds.
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “so, what the hell is this truck all about and what makes it so special?” Which is fair. It’s very easy to slap some solar panels on a roof and a water recycler under a sink and start hashtagging “sustainability” and “green” all day long. This truck goes far beyond that.
When you walk up to the truck, the first thing you notice is a sort of faux-sidewalk that has large colored squares — not unlike a Dance Dance Revolution floor. This is a Pavegen system. Basically, it converts the pressure your feet make on a surface into energy. The Shell Synergy Truck has one when you walk up with a built-in screen on the truck’s wall to measure your activity. You can also do a little exercise (or a little dance) and create more energy for the truck. The amount of energy you create is then deducted from your bill.
Essentially, you can do a quick workout, create free energy, and earn a free lunch. Chef Lefebvre was blown away by this innovation — so much so that he wants to bring it to his brick and mortar properties.
“You know, to create energy where you stand, where you walk, it’s pretty cool. I would love to put one in my restaurant,” Lefebvre says. “In the kitchen, we walk so much, we stand up all the time, so I think it would be pretty amazing to create energy like this.”
Indeed, this sort of technology has wide implications from kitchen floors to behind the bar. But also think of the energy you could produce in a museum, or all that energy lost during decades of soccer fans jumping and chanting.