GILT | New York
Paul Liebrandt began his career working under some of the
top chefs in England, including Marco Pierre White at his three-star
Michelin restaurant in London, and Raymond Blanc at his two-star
Michelin restaurant in Oxford, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.
After reaching a certain point in those kitchens,
Liebrandt decided to expand his gastronomical view and traveled
to Paris, where he worked under Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous
three-star Michelin restaurant for a year. Still seeking to expand
his culinary repertoire, he traveled to New York, going to work
with David Bouley as chef de cuisine at Bouley Bakery.
Liebrandt left Bouley Bakery in 2000 in search
of an executive chef position, which he found at Atlas.
By the fall of that year, he had developed one of the most innovative
and trend setting restaurants in Manhattan, and went on to receive
three stars from The New York Times critic William Grimes, becoming
the youngest chef ever to be awarded three stars at the age of 23.
Upon leaving Atlas in 2001, Liebrandt became the director
of the restaurant Papillon, which earned two stars from
The New York Times.
In 2002, Liebrandt took a hiatus from the New York
restaurant scene to cook for numerous high-profile clients abroad
including Lord Rothschild and HRH Prince Andrew. In 2003 he founded
the Veda Group, a New York-based restaurant consulting firm. Most
recently, Liebrandt launched his first solo restaurant in New York,
Gilt, which gained recognition for its avant-garde, cross-cultural
menu devoted to the principles of spontaneity and diversity. Having
departed from the Gilt kitchen in August of 2006, Liebrandt
is in search of his next culinary adventure.
AB: Did you attend culinary
school? Would you recommend it?
PL: I went to school in Westminster,
London. Culinary school is a great base for knowledge, but it’s
a really expensive investment for young people. In my kitchen, it’s
not primarily culinary school grads, so while it can only help,
I certainly don’t think it’s a necessity.
AB: What is your
philosophy on food and dining?
PL: I think that above all,
it should be fun, and bring a smile to your face. I could have created
a French restaurant in the serious style of Alain Ducasse, but I
wanted something a little more relaxed.
AB: Who are your
mentors? And what is the most important thing you learned from them?
PL: Pierre Gagnaire taught
me the importance of spontaneity, of not looking only in one direction,
of breaking the routine of cooking and working with what is created
with an open mind.
AB: Are there
any secret ingredients that you especially like?
PL: Gomo Gellan, which is micro-organism
based, is great. I use it to make hot jellies and hot liquid gels
that can even be deep fried. I use the gellan to make an interesting
fizzy gel with parsley jus and champagne.
AB: What flavor
combinations do you favor?
PL: I like rhubarb, coffee
and artichoke together. The coffee brings everything out of the
rhubarb and artichoke and gives them a depth they don’t reach
on their own.
AB: What is your
most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
PL: My surgical tweezers are
indispensable when I’m plating, and I place each herb leaf
one at a time. Fingers just can’t do that sort of work.
AB: Is there
a culinary technique that you have either created or used in an
PL: I make a Royale of hare,
which is traditionally braised and I pair it with langoustines.
I roll the Royale into a cylinder, cook it sous-vide very gently
for two hours, then sear it, and sous-vide it again. Then, I cook
it again. It sounds like a lot, but the hare holds up perfectly.
AB: What is your
favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new
PL: I like to ask if the candidate
is a hard worker.
AB: What tips
would you offer a young chef just getting started?
PL: If you’re going to
cook in this business, you’re going to need to give it your
all: mind, body, and soul. You must be beyond dedicated to really
AB: What are
your favorite cookbooks?
PL: I always go back to Cuisine
Immediate by Pierre Gagnaire, and White Heat by Marco Pierre White.
AB: What cities
do you like for culinary travel?
PL: I like Paris, London and
Tokyo, and the differences each one offers.
AB: Where do
you see yourself in five years?
PL: I’d like to be a
position stable enough to own my own restaurant, and from there,
own two or three restaurants and grow into a brand.
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