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A Matter of Taste Film Review

Exploring the Art of Food

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


A Matter of Taste Paul Liebrandt

Paul Paints with Sauce

Rowe Road Productions, LLC
“I’m not a nutcase. I’m just an artist,” explains chef Paul Liebrandt as he poses with a bloody pig’s head at the beginning of the new documentary A Matter of Taste, which premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival and will debut on HBO on Monday, June 13.

A New York Story

A Matter of Taste is a real New York story – about a talented, ambitious seeker from somewhere else (in this case, Zimbabwe via Paris and London) striving to make it in New York City.

Liebrandt enjoyed a very promising New York start. In 2001, he became the youngest chef ever to earn a three-star rating from The New York Times (at Atlas in 2000). He becomes known for his creative daring style. His signature dishes included a beer and truffle soup and a combination of eel, chocolate, and violets.

Sally Rowe’s film picks up in December 2001, when life isn’t quite so rosy for Liebrandt. He is suffering through New York’s post-9/11 embrace of comfort food and rejection of haute cuisine. We follow him from job to job as he keeps busy and waits for his moment – when New York will be ready for his vision – a true Paul Liebrandt restaurant.

Wonderment, Discovery, and Calf Brains

Liebrandt is a true innovator and his medium is food. Critics describe his style as deconstructionist. Liebrandt describes how he can “take traditional flavor combinations that work and tweak them…take something out or put something new in.”

The quotable Liebrandt says he always begins by asking: “What story am I telling? What type of emotion am I trying to stimulate? Wonderment and discovery.”

The Quest for Three Stars

When Liebrandt teams up with Drew Nieporent to open Corton in the old Montrachet space, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to see if Liebrandt will win over Frank Bruni and Michelin and see his vision and hard work recognized.

Even if your mouth doesn’t water over the idea of pig cheek and clams with pumpkin curry sauce, you will be fascinated and entertained by A Matter of Taste. It’s a film for New York foodies, Top Chef fans, and anyone else interested in the creative process and the intersection of art and money in the New York restaurant business.

Of course, if you’re a true New York foodie, you may already know the ending, but the ride is a lot of fun anyway.

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