Chefs Club’s Latest Resident Paul Liebrandt Dishes On What To Expect

Chef Paul Liebrandt
Courtesy Chefs Club

Celebrated chef and restaurateur, Paul Liebrandt is taking his personal approach with ingredients and technique to Chefs Club in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Formerly known for his Brooklyn restaurant The Elm—which after six weeks was voted best new restaurant in the U.S.A. by Esquire magazine—the British chef spent his teen years working under Chefs like Marco Pierre White and Pierre Gagnaire across London and Paris. He achieved many high distinctions for his work, including becoming the youngest chef ever to be awarded three stars by the New York Times. Since then he has earned numerous accolades, stars at restaurants and for the next two months, Liebrandt will be serving New Yorkers and visitors once again. Haute Living sat down with Chef Liebrandt to talk inspiration, what diners can expect during his residency at Chefs Club and future projects.

Where did you draw inspiration from for the menu?

We’re in March, which is sort of an in-between month, so it’s definitely a seasonal menu, focusing on spring, as we’re here for the next two months.

I noticed there are a few art pieces around the room. What is your intention here and how does it correlate with the menu?

We actually have a big piece coming in tomorrow to fill the entire back wall, but as far as the look and the feel, I chose areas that are the focal points of the restaurant—the first and last things you see. When you come into the restaurant the first thing you see is the entrance piece (Matter of Taste), and of course, the eye-catching piece is in the dining room. In terms of the artwork itself, the inspiration was mood, feeling and my personality—who I am, my team and our customers’ expectations. The big piece in the dining room is inspired by the band, Joy Division’s, first album. I thought it would be fun, it goes well with where we are—SoHo, NY—and of course, I’m British so I wanted customers to come in and see the piece and think that is kind of cool.

What were your initial thoughts when Stephane approached you for residency at Chefs Club?

I’m in between projects right now. But I never thought about doing this before, because it’s more for out of town chefs, but Stephane and I spoke and he asked if I wanted to do it and I said absolutely. I brought in some of my own team and we’re also working with some of the team here.

While you don’t know your creative process, how do you plan a dish?

There are a lot of factors. I look at where we are, who I’m cooking for. If I’m cooking in London, then dishes will be different to say, if I were cooking in Melbourne. I also look at the time of year and what produce is available in the season. Planning is important, I can’t just sit down and think up a dish. I need to ask myself, can we do it? Is it plausible? A dinner for 10 people is different from a dinner for 100 people. I don’t replicate dishes from past projects, I want to give it a touch, feel and the right sensibility to the project at hand. The customer should feel like it’s tailor-made to this moment. That to me is the art of dining, you want to feel special when you’re eating a meal.

What can diners expect from the menu at Chefs Club?

It’s seasonally driven. We’re just touching on spring, so flavor-wise, aesthetic, taste, touch and my style are apart of it. We have beautiful duck and sea bass on the menu. There is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is astute, as diners would expect it to be in this establishment. The weather also dictates how people eat, so food-wise, I’m looking at that factor. How do we bridge that gap coming out of winter and moving into warmer climates? The dishes are always light, but there are also more elements on the dish, which will keep it grounded, so there is not too much spring influence in there.

Chef Paul Liebrandt
Photo Credit: Ben Hon

If you could open a restaurant anywhere in the world, where would it be?

That’s a hard one because I’m a New Yorker, but if it’s a dream question it’s different. Well, New York would be the first answer, but if it’s a dream I would say Hong Kong. I love Hong Kong. I grew up in London, but opposite Chinatown, so when I was six years old I would walk past all the Chinese restaurants. I would see ducks hanging or people making wonton soups. At that early age, the tastes, the smells and the look, didn’t have much of an impact but as I got older I realized it did have an effect. I love Chinese cuisine. I even had the privilege of being invited to take my restaurant to Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for two weeks. I had a great time and met some amazing people. I would love to do a project there at some point. Maybe one day.