In 2001, Paul Liebrandt was a young chef making food that put a daring new spin on traditional techniques. In the vanguard of what would become known as "molecular gastronomy," he bounced from restaurant to restaurant in New York City, struggling to find the right outlet for his creative vision.
A MATTER OF TASTE: SERVING UP PAUL LIEBRANDT follows the cutting-edge chef over the course of nine and a half years, documenting the highs and lows of an artist striving to find his place in New York's cutthroat world of haute cuisine when it debuts MONDAY, JUNE 13 (9:00-10:15 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. First-time filmmaker Sally Rowe directs.
Other HBO playdates: June 13 (5:50 a.m.), 16 (4:45 p.m.), 18 (12:45 p.m.), 21 (9:15 a.m.) and 26 (1:45 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: June 15 (8:00 p.m.) and 27 (2:45 a.m.)
HBO Documentary Films presents another weekly series this summer, debuting a provocative new special every Monday from June 6 through Aug. 15. Other June films include: "Bobby Fischer Against the World" (June 6); "Sex Crimes Unit" (June 20); and "Hot Coffee" (June 27).
At age 24, Atlas chef Paul Liebrandt received three stars from the New York Times for unforgettable and hypermodern dishes such as "espuma of calf brains and foie gras" and "beer and truffle soup." He soon became a chef critics loved - or loved to hate.
During his tenure at the modest bistro Papillon, New York Times food critic William Grimes gave Liebrandt two stars, because "there was some inspired cooking going on," but added that "he needs a bigger show." As the restaurant business weakened post-9/11, the owners changed the menu to cut costs. Forced to serve burgers and fries, Liebrandt soon left Papillon.
A few years later, Liebrandt became the executive chef at Gilt, where he could make food that told a story. Thomas Keller, chef-owner of Per Se, says Liebrandt was making cuisine that expressed his personality, noting that the food "was more based in traditional technique and traditional flavors, but still with wonderful surprises and new flavor compositions, and the execution became even better." But six weeks after the restaurant's opening, New York Times food critic Frank Bruni awarded Gilt a disappointing two stars. Liebrandt and Gilt soon parted ways.