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10
A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This is another in the fine series of restaurant documentaries being released by First Run Features. I watched every one and find them fascinating.

This film by Sally Rowe follows British born New York check Paul Liebrant over an eight-year period from 2001 (when he was 24-years old) to 2009. We see him in his early days of being an inventive chef (in a city which is in the shadow of the then recent 9/11 tragedy) where he loses a job and then finds one and loses the next - still looking for the perfect place. We learn about the longs hours that a master chef must work (and his staff as well).

Rowe is the perfect director for this film, as she not only captures the chef's story but the GRORGEOUS food that he designs. It is truly art! The 69-minute film is supplemented by the following extras:

Three extended interviews with major chefs Heston Blumenthal from Fat Duck (5 min), Thomas Keller from the French Laundry and Per Se (9 minutes) and Eric Ripert from La Bernadin (6 minutes). Each explains their own career path.

The short (2:22) film by Rowe titled "Amuse Bouche" which shows Liebrant creating a unique appetizer. (great photography to electronic music score_).

A secind short (3:51) film by Rowe - " Carton et Lumiere" showing close-ups of food ingredients photographed as art.

If you've seen the other "chef" DVDs you'll want this one,; if not this is a good one to start with. No you won't learn to cook by watching these but you'll appreciate that high priced meal in a three-star restaurant even more when you see the work and risk that goes into running a restaurant.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2012
Truly an artist with talent and integrity and a well done documentary.
A must see for anyone in the industry who honestly cares about what they do and how they present themselves and their work.
However, if you are passionate about ANY path you pursue, this ought to touch you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2012
I can't say anything that hasn't been said, but Amazon is making me write more than 20 words. This movie is great. Good direction, good context and well thought out structure. His story is inspirational for anyone, not just chefs. Check it out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
As a chef myself, I can appreciate the in depth look into the world of a top notch Michelin star kitchen. If you're a chef, a foodie, or just looking to be inspired, this is a can't miss documentary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2012
great movie about a great chef, anyone interested in food will love this. shows what it takes to be a chef at the highest level.
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on May 12, 2015
Wanna see feverish creativity paired with similarly hectic, unstable employment history? Liebrandt's restaurants, whose future was assured by critics' positive reviews, typically close within a year of favorable ink being spilled. Quoting P.T. Barnum: "This way to the egress!"

While cooling his heels again, the phone rings with someone asking to schedule a magazine shoot on behalf of His Royal Highness, Sir Liebrandt. He answers. May I call you after another half hour of sulking please? I'm busy softening my accent to climb another rung in the British class structure before my gentle appearance in U.S. bankruptcy court. Thank you so much. No. No. Don't mention it. You're too kind!

Our hero admits the mentor whose portrait is framed in the kitchen ("You changed my life!") has no recollection of training or ever working with him. Star student? Probably not. Elderly French masters don't waste time reading NY based 'about town' fashion rags.

The young maestro's face is overtaken by stubble and flab which gradually fuses his throat and jaw together. Flowing locks which the artist waved over plates as he summoned the muse are replaced by his receding hairline ebbed further offshore by slick, greasy gel. Is this desperate signaling to mafia gourmands for their help as angel investors? The prince turning back into a toad? PL's rock star moodiness and entitlement is offset by the forced optimism of his business partners. New York Times comments -- just published online! -- are presented by one $orry $oul to a room of line cooks and wait staff as if the words are a biblical revelation.

A note to avid culinarians applauding nonsense for its own sake: When your workplace is defined by pep rallies and temper tantrums instead of actual teeth at the table, per Lord Barnum's suggestion, you too are heading for a surprise exit. Your paycheck has already fled. Chase it elsewhere.Fits and lectures suit Gordon Ramsay. Gordo has the savvy to market cartoon aspects of himself without lapses of quality at dinner time. If Ramsay's Michelin stars were confiscated and his shop was magically transformed into a greasy spoon, customers would enjoy the best burgers and fries imaginable. There'd be a line around the block.

"A Matter of Taste" pretends to focus on refinement and high standards. Instead, cliches emerge (Think Garrison Keillor, "Cafe Boeuf") regarding the chef's refusal to put anything ahead of neurotic self absorption.

In contrast, I'm reminded of another jowly, balding Chef Paul who doesn't shave much. This isn't from the NYT. It's from ESPN, March 2008:

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

[Paul] Prudhomme was setting up his tent at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when he felt a sting on his right arm, above the elbow. He thought it was a bee sting, but discovered a .22 caliber bullet after shaking his shirt sleeve.

Deputies believe Prudhomme was hit by a falling bullet, probably shot about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday from somewhere within a 1 ½-mile radius of the golf course, said Col. John Fortunato of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

The celebrated chef didn't require medical attention.

"He thought it was a bee sting," Fortunato said. "Within five minutes, he was back to doing his thing."

Witnesses say the bullet cut Prudhomme's skin and put a hole in his white chef's coat. However, Prudhomme continued cooking for the golfers, their caddies and guests at the annual PGA Tour event.

Prudhomme, who grew up outside Opelousas, La., rose to prominence after being named the first American-born executive chef of Commander's Palace in 1975.
_________________________

In 2005, when his restaurant was closed by the hurricane, Prudhomme served 6,000 meals to displaced residents. I'm sure lots of those diners recognized Chef Paul before Katrina. I'd also bet many who ate then knew nothing of the man's reputation.

Food matters. People matter. Ego counts for little in the long run, unless it undermines your talent and ruin your livelihood. This is the bull's eye Paul Liebrandt seems to hit over and over. I've made consistent shots in a tight grouping on that target myself. Surrendering health, income, or losing a loved one are sure routes to personal insight or total collapse.

The reason Paul Liebrandt seems immature and yet oddly persistent is because he hasn't suffered enough to make meaningful contributions in his field or be wiped off the map completely and find something else worthwhile. Fame insulates him from the consequences of failure and seems to hold him back from real success or satisfaction. We're in the boat and aging with him, so (You're welcome hipster Williamsburg!) if you can stomach that irony, this documentary may be an Everyman story for us all.

On the other hand, I could have it completely wrong. Drumming up publicity for performance art where unwashed masses fail to understand your genius, is a solid hook.
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on September 23, 2014
A behind the scenes peak into gastro-fondue. Spear me and dip me in liebrandt :-)
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on August 11, 2015
Enjoyed showing this to my culinary students.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2013
Interesting, informative, thrilling. It's a great documentary because it's the perfect explanation to how succeed in the culinary industry. You can buy ingredients but you cannot buy passion or attitude!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2014
Ok started to get board in the first 10 min
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