A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt Set For HBO June 13

A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt Set For HBO June 13

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.

In March 2007, Liebrandt was approached by restaurateur Drew Nieporent to be the chef and part-owner of Corton, a high-end Tribeca venue. A MATTER OF TASTE follows the two, along with restaurant director Arleene Oconitrillo (who is also Liebrandt's girlfriend), as they work feverishly to get Corton ready for opening, testing recipes and perfecting the d?cor. Amidst anticipation of a New York Times review, Corton has a successful opening. Notes Nieporent, "I've never, ever, ever had a restaurant - except maybe, maybe Nobu - that has uniformly gotten this much critical acclaim all at once. But what's missing? The New York Times. The paper of record."

Among the friends, colleagues and prominent chefs, restaurateurs and food critics interviewed for A MATTER OF TASTE: SERVING UP PAUL LIEBRANDT are: Grant Achatz, chef-owner of Chicago's Alinea; Heston Blumenthal, chef-owner of The Fat Duck in Bray, England; chef-restaurateur Daniel Boulud; Frank Bruni, New York Times food critic (2004-2009); Mike Colameco, PBS culinary host; William Grimes, New York Times Food Critic (1998-2003); Thomas Keller, chef-owner of Per Se; restaurateur Drew Nieporent; and Eric Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin and host of PBS's "Avec Eric."

New Zealand-born filmmaker Sally Rowe started in film in 1992 as an apprentice editor, assistant and editor. In 2001, she began working as a script supervisor on numerous independent features and commercials, as well as the entire run of the Emmy?-nominated comedy series "Chappelle's Show." A MATTER OF TASTE is her directorial debut.

A MATTER OF TASTE: SERVING UP PAUL LIEBRANDT is directed by Sally Rowe; executive producer, Benjamin Breen; producers, Sally Rowe, Alan Oxman and Rachel Mills; editor and co-producer, Amy Foote; music by John M. Davis.