Despite many years and multiple credits to his name, Fred Savage will always be best known to anyone alive in the 1980s and ‘90s as Kevin Arnold, central character and narrator (via the voice of Daniel Stern) of the comedy series The Wonder Years. Since leaving that show, Savage has kept busy, perhaps most notably getting in the director’s chair to helm episodes of successful series like Modern Family and The Connors. But he’s still available for on-camera work, too, and Savage appeared on last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote this latest credit, a satirical after-show panel series (think Talking Dead) titled What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage. However, despite the plug for the new project, it’s a previous gig host Jimmy Kimmel asked about that caught our attention.
On the heels of the night’s other guest, Shaquille O’neal, discussing his restaurant ventures, Kimmel asked Savage if he’d ever worked in a restaurant. Savage explained that Los Angeles-based chef Ludo Lefebvre used to take on interns to help out at LudoBites, a position he filled a few times over the years.
“So I volunteered to intern in his kitchen, and I loved it. I loved it,” Savage said. “I wouldn’t, like, cook food but I would like pit cherries during prep. I did prep work. I would tie the roasts or I would plate things.” However, once Lefebvre got a “proper restaurant,” apparently the chef had to stick to hiring professionals, Savage explained.
While Savage admits his wife is the superior cook, he enjoyed the experience and energy of working in a restaurant kitchen. “There was something great about a kitchen or a restaurant. It feels a lot like a [film] set, everyone’s doing a very specific job to kind of create this one big work that everyone enjoys.”
Of course, given stories we seem to hear about famous former child stars and their less-than-successful adult years, Kimmel had an obvious follow-up question: “Did the customers ever see you and go ‘oh no, what’s happened?’”
“They saw me a couple times,” Savage admits. “Whether or not I made them sad, I don’t know. But I liked it. I had fun.”
Watch the entire interview below (the restaurant question is right up top):
On Lefebvre-focused season of PBS’s Mind of a Chef, Savage’s tenure as an intern came up in episode eight in the form of an anecdote about how the actor showed up late for this first day on the job, so the chef made him peel grapes only to toss them out after Savage had put in hours of work. Despite the tough love, Savage returned for his next shift.
Other than that, Savage working for Lefebvre has gone pretty much under-the-radar. Here’s a tweet from Chef Ludo back in 2009 that hints Savage was entertaining the staff off-camera in the kitchen (with only one like and one retweet!):
So tired today but thank god we have Fred Savage in the kitchen for a "stage" he making us all laugh with knife skills.funny guy— Ludo Lefebvre (@chefludo) December 19, 2009
His gig at LudoBites was also mentioned in a 2012 Hollywood Reporter piece detailing the actor’s pivot to becoming a prolific sitcom director. And a blog post from an employee includes a photo of Savage in his crew uniform (see that image here).
With all this experience under his belt, maybe it’s time Fred Savage played a chef… or at least directed a sitcom about one!