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Accessible elegance.

Paul Liebrandt is.. well, I'm not quite sure how to finish that sentence. He is a talented chef? He would rather break the mold than stay in it? He is quite tall with slightly floppy hair and a lovely British accent? He oozes intensity? While all these statements are accurate, none seem enough to fully capture his personality or wholly describe him. He speaks quietly but in such a way that draws you in rather than forcing him to repeat himself. While plating, he seemingly bends in half and applies a dot of this or a leaf of that with a precise and steady hand. As he works, he explains what he is doing and why to a young chef next to him. It is easy to imagine that this must have been how he was trained as well. He radiates charisma, confidence, and above all, sheer skill and talent.

Liebrandt started working in restaurants in his teenage years and from the onset he worked in top rated restaurants for highly regarded chefs including Marco Pierre White, Pierre Gagnaire, and David Bouley. By 23 he was working as an executive chef in New York City at Atlas and became the youngest chef to ever earn three stars from The New York Times. But this was just the start for Liebrandt. After about a year, Liebrandt became the chef at Papillon and garnered a two star review from The New York Times before taking some time away from the New York restaurant scene. All of this experience ultimately led him to open Corton in 2008. In its inaugural year it received two Michelin stars and a three star review from The New York Times. Corton went on to be named a top restaurant by various media outlets and, in 2009, was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as Best New Restaurant in the United Stales. By all standards Corton was very successful, yet just a few months ago, Liebrandt announced he would be leaving it to focus on other projects. Whatever the complete reason.. ing for moving on, in many ways this move is in step with Liebrandt and his past. He has never stayed in one place for too long and he is always evolving. During ACM's interview with Liebrandt he stated many different times how vital he feels it is for a chef to have an open mind, a global viewpoint, and the ability to change and experiment. These beliefs are all translated into the menu at Liebrandt's most current restaurant, which opened in the summer of 2013, The Elm.

The Elm is sleek while also being airy and bright. It feels comfortable and relaxed without being overly casual which is a perfect match for the menu. The food at The Elm is beautifully plated with a slightly minimalist touch, but rather than making the dishes seem overly worked or too fancy to eat, it keeps the focus on the few carefully chosen ingredients in each dish. It is a fine line to walk, as plenty of intricate and advance technique is showcased at The Elm, but one that Liebrandt treads without wavering.

YOU DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT WITH THE ELM-MORE CASUAL AND MORE SEASONAL. WHAT WAS THE DRIVE BEHIND THE IDEA?

I looked at what I was doing and I just wanted to be able to do something that was obviously more in tune with a global feel and not get sort of pigeonholed and stuck doing the same thing over and over again. And to do something that was definitely more approachable--definitely.

SO YOU WANTED TO BRING IN GLOBAL INFLUENCES AND NOT REALLY BE DEFINED BY ANY ONE THING?

Yeah but I think the style is what we are really talking about. The food--you can turn it up and down and that's fine--but in the context of where you are dining, the feel and the tone is very important. We are at a point of thinking about what people's needs are and not doing the same kind of restaurant that has been done. You are seeing it in Paris and London. Its the new style of what people, the general public, are looking for: quality, but at an affordable price. And that's really what I want to be able to offer guests.

PAUL LIEBRANDT

Chef/Partner

THE ELM

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
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Author:Liebrandt, Paul
Publication:Art Culinaire
Date:Dec 22, 2013
Words:726
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