3 questions for...Paul Liebrandt

Chef, man of mystery

Most New Yorkers haven’t tasted chef Paul Liebrandt’s daring cuisine since he left the kitchen of Gilt last year. After months of keeping a low profile, rumors of his next project—the blog Eater recently posted a $500 reward for the details—have put the 31-year-old chef back in play.

1

It’s been a year since you left Gilt. How have you been spending your time?
I’m on this Chinese food kick right now, practicing a lot of the classic dishes from the Ming Dynasty that are bizarre but incredible. A lot of the techniques for the food are quite enlightening as well—poaching something and then frying it and then glazing it… [I also] like the Peking duck technique used not with duck or not even with meat, with a vegetable, a carrot maybe. This isn’t new, but for me it is.

2

So that upcoming project…the second coming of Shun Li?
I’m not doing a Chinese restaurant. Everybody I know, my poorly paid friends in the restaurant business, have been asking me for details because they need the money [promised by Eater]. I’m like, “Hey, guys, I could do with $500 as well.” I haven’t said a word. I will confirm that yes, I am doing a project in New York City that is set to open early next year.

3

Word is you could give Wylie Dufresne (wd-50) a run for his money. What’s with the avant rep?I hate that word avant-garde, I’m not an enfant terrible. I cook French food. Modern French food, sure, but it’s French food.… It’s no different from anything that Wylie or anybody else is doing. I’m not creative for creative’s sake.