Inspired Cooking: Creating Dishes from Art | Paul Liebrandt | Skillshare

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Inspired Cooking: Creating Dishes from Art

teacher avatar Paul Liebrandt, Chef and Owner, The Elm

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Assignment: Create a Painting-Inspired Dish


    • 3.

      In the Restaurant: Finding Inspiration


    • 4.

      At Green Market: Discovering Ingredients


    • 5.

      In the Kitchen: Prepping Ingredients


    • 6.

      Creating the Dish


    • 7.

      Hungry for More?


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About This Class

Get a glimpse into Chef Paul Liebrandt’s creative process for creating dishes for his Michelin-rated restaurants. In this 45-minute class, you’ll follow along as Paul concocts a dish inspired by the paintings of Monet, using the colors and textures to inform ingredient selection, preparation technique, and final presentation. You will then create a dish of your own that evokes the essence of a favorite painting. What artist will you channel with your inner chef?

Meet Your Teacher

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Paul Liebrandt

Chef and Owner, The Elm


Chef Paul Liebrandt's food melds the tradition of classical cuisine with a contemporary, personal approach to ingredients and technique and a uniquely graphic visual style.

As a teenager growing up in London, England, Liebrandt cooked for some the world's most esteemed restaurants and chefs including Marco Pierre White at his Michelin three-star restaurant, Raymond Blanc at Le Manor Aux Quat' Saisons in Oxford, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the London outpost of Vong. He traces his turning point from cook to chef to a life-changing year he spent working under the brilliant Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous three-star restaurant in Paris, France. Following that experience, Liebrandt moved to New York City in 1999, where he worked briefly for David Bouley, at Bouley Bakery.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: My name is Paul Liebrandt. I'm a chef, and today, we're going to be doing a class on creativity and inspiration from the point of view of a visual painting, and making that and transferring that into an actual dish based on what we see and how we translate that into what we eat. A few characteristics I would say that work with anything that we do creative when it comes to food part, for me, the emotion and the feeling and the story that we're telling is the most important part. So more like jazz in a way, it's a lot of spontaneity. I started in London because I'm British, and I was brought up in London, and I worked in London at a lot of very good places. Then, about 14 years ago, I decided to take a trip to New York, and I fell in love with New York, and I didn't leave. I've opened up several restaurants. Notable, Atlas was my first restaurant at 24. I had a restaurant called Corton for the past six years, which is a two Michelin-starred restaurant. This is another one that I opened called The Elm, which is in Brooklyn. Today, we're going to be taking on a journey with what we do here. The class project today that we're going to be doing is we're going to be looking at fine art, and taking inspiration from fine art, and looking at the visual aspects of something that we can take, meld with the season that we're in right now, and be able to take raw ingredients, have the spontaneity and the conceptual idea on how to take those ingredients and transform them into something which is very representative and also the right sensibility of what we saw in the picture. Food is something which you use all your six senses in. So it's not so much a cooking demo. It's more of the journey from the visual aspect of looking at something, and how do we get from that point A to point C with the final dish that you are going to eat and try. How did we get there? Craft, art, visual, and transforming that into what we have in here into something that is tangible, and delicious, and beautiful on the plate. 2. Project Assignment: Create a Painting-Inspired Dish: The picture that I've chosen as the inspiration for this dish is one of Monet's Water Lilies. It's a stunning painting, well, series of paintings. The kaleidoscope I think is a good word to use of the colors, and just the general overall picture really evokes for me the green market, evokes for me the time of year that we're in. I think that we can take that inspiration and we can really replicate something, which has the sensibility of it. We're not going to try and reproduce it, because nobody wants to eat water lilies. We're going to take that idea and that feel of the graphic nature, I think is a good word, of detail of the different shades and colors that tend to kind of blend into one nice palette, as it were. We're going to take that idea, and we're going to look at the green market. I'm going to take ingredients that I feel that we can use, and that we can identify, that will blend well to get the same sensibility, that when you look at the final dish, is a plethora of a palette of color and texture. All right so, we have our inspiration, we know what we're looking for. We're going to head to the green market and find some wonderful ingredients with which we can then transform this idea into a beautiful dish. 3. In the Restaurant: Finding Inspiration: With cooking, it's an evolving thing. I really do like to think of it as very much like a designer would design. As far as you like a particular designer, you trust what they do, you like the aesthetic, you like the feel, the fit, the whole package you like it. So, as far as the food world goes, it's the same thing when you look at a chef. What I try and do is every project that I do, I don't approach it as the same menu and the same dishes. I tried to give a feeling and a story for each spot and each menu that we do in each place as well as throughout the course of the year, it's own narrative, its own feel is stand alone. So, year-to-year, it's not completely different but I don't tend to take the summer menu that we did last year and do it this year and the winter, and just keep going and add a dish here and there. We do like to try and do the whole thing. So, that as a customer, does that sense of discovery when you come in. But there's still a point of reference and recognition where you feel like okay, I feel comfortable, I know where I am but he's coming up with new discoveries. So, for me that's an important way to approach the menu. So, as far as dishes go, we don't have a standard set of dishes that we roll out year after year. A few that I would say, one that that I did 15 years ago, very simple. It was Apple wasabi sorbet. Fresh, green apple juice, fresh Japanese wasabi made into a sorbet. It was a savory sorbet so it wasn't sweet. So, you had a very defined beautiful smell and that first crisp clean flavor of green apple, a Granny Smith apple the flavor of that, with beautiful taught and spiciness of green wasabi, fresh root wasabi. We would serve that as a palate cleanser and season it with some molten salt, and this infused beautiful French olive oil that we were using at the time. It's a very simple thing in itself, it's very simple but the impact with regards to flavor, temperature, texture it's more than the sum of its parts. So, it really is one of those ones that everybody was surprised. You can physically see them well, in a way where they just didn't expect it because that's the idea of telling that story, the idea was green. Different shades of green, the taste of green. Another I would say dish that we like very much beautifully cooked fresh live dungeness crabs, just very gently shredded meat made into just a nice little ball of crab meat. Then I would make a very fine galette out of white beer, and crab consomme, so the bones make crab consomme and flavor it with this very nice white Japanese beer. We would make a little disk like this very fine of the galette which has the aroma of the beer and the taste of the crap, and just imprint like press flowers some little flowers and little hubs are green and red and orange,just some beautiful beautiful colors and then just drape it. So, it just hang beautiful like a table cloth over the crab. So, the story that brought me to that point was when I was a young trainee cook in London, pop-culture there in the summer was everybody could sit outside and you have a pint of beer. I remember when I was 18, that kind of time maybe a bit younger, but technically I'm not allowed to say that am I. Sitting outside in the summer and you have this beautiful English Girls, and beautiful flowery summer dresses sitting having a beer and just thinking one day and just reminiscing. Thinking well, it's a good emotion, again it's a story, it's what most good dishes they come from that point of view is, is something that's personal. It was my albeit very personal interpretation of saying, "This is me sitting outside, with this beautiful little dish that evokes memories for me, when I was a young teenager sitting outside in the summer training, working with crab for the first time, my first time talking to girls, my first time becoming a man whilst learning how to cook." This is the dish that I thought would be a beautiful interpretation of that. So again, it's a point of spontaneity and reference and emotion that comes into play there with thinking of how to create a dish. Taking the knowledge that you have how to make the gallete, how to prepare the crab. Then combining all of it and obviously it stands on its own as a dish because it has to be. Because I'm not going to go tell that story to every customer but for me, that's where it comes from. For the customer when they eat it that's not obviously for them but they can eat the dish. It's crab, beer the flowers, the beautiful [inaudible] flower. It all just melts together as this beautiful evocation of early summer spring which is right around the time when we do it. I think the difference for me with the conception of cooking is an art or craft. I think it's both. For me the point of view that I have is if you're an artist, I can create a beautiful meal for you today. Tomorrow I don't have to. Because it's art, because it's there, it's done and for me, it's very important to make sure that there's a consistency to what we do, because that's what the craft comes into it. Doing this cooking for living is extremely hard and every single day that you cook professionally, people come to eat your food and there has to be a standard and a consistency in what you do. Therefore, just because we have a great service today and we put out some beautiful dishes today, and their artistic and yes, yes, yes, that doesn't mean that tomorrow we can take the foot off the gas pedal. It's very important to understand the balance though because it too often it's either one or the other and then, if it's all craft that's very good and that works. But I think that the artistic part is also very important. It's very important but if it's too much art and then the craft tends to suffer, it has to be both, I think is the answer. For this particular dish that were doing, was looking more at landscape, and looking more at nature and looking more at traditional style of art not more than not at all. So for me, that sets a tone of exactly what we're going to be doing as far as from a food point of view. So, we're looking at gardens and landscapes as nature, so it's green. So automatically, that leaves me towards more of a vegetables and fruits. That to me is very different as if I was to look at maybe a piece of art from maybe the Renaissance where it's more bold block colors, there's a lot darker. It's a lot more, it's less pastel. That would for me be more meat but that's me, that's the way I look at it. So, it's really in the eye of the beholder. As a student looking at a piece of art and saying, "What does this feeling evoke for me?" It really is up to you because everybody's different. So, right now we have beautiful tomatoes and corn and herbs and things which are abundant right now. If we do this dish where more towards December, January. Obviously, we're looking more at root vegetables, we're looking more at a hardier style of eating but the concept remains the same, it's just our approach of how we position the ingredients changes. So, it really depends on how you want to eat, what time of year it is, what the local produce delivers and where you live because every culture is slightly different. 4. At Green Market: Discovering Ingredients: Today, we are at the Union Square Greenmarket in the history Union Square. This is the largest farmer's market in New York City and this is where all the farms from upstate New York had somebody come down and they come down four times a week and they sell whatever is seasonal. We're going to do something which is based with the spirit of Monet, the waterlilies to be exact. One of those many series that he did, Monet was a real inspiration I feel for this dish where the landscape and the colors and almost like a collage of touch and feel with the blending of the colors with the ingredients that we have here today is something that we can achieve and really execute a beautiful, beautiful late summer dish in the spirit of Monet. Food is very seasonal as with most things and it's very important to make sure that you work with nature as it were. We're in September right now. I will be using ingredients especially vegetables and fruits and hubs that are in season now. So therefore, we're going to use no protein, we're going to use purely vegetables and hubs and fruits and flowers so that we have a light feel to the dish. So again it's choosing the right ingredients for the right kind of dish with in essence a story that you want to tell when you create a dish. Whoever's eating the dish, you want to give them that story, whether it be a sandwich, whether it be something a little more complicated like we're going to do today, that's about what you want to present on the plate. So we're going to have a look at the farmer's markets today and we're going to see what we have to work with. This to me is where the spontaneity start. This is to me where we have our starting point of what we're going to do with the dish that we're going to do. So we'll look around, we have this beautiful heirloom tomatoes. We have these beautiful eggplants, all different kinds of eggplants. We have obviously the Italian eggplants here. We have white eggplants. We have the Japanese eggplants over here. We have pickles. We have white pickles, all different kinds. We have most beautiful tiny delicate little baby watermelons here, yellow watermelons. We have lovely cantaloupes here. We have some lovely is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful white corn here that we have. This is really where it comes through and what I'm thinking right now is I'm thinking about when I look at that corn, how's it going to taste? What's the texture going to be? I know the time a year and I know where this grows, where there's more water, where it's rained and recently which was just going to be more sugar in it. We're looking at the size of them. We're looking at how big they are. We're looking at the variety. When we're looking at the Monet, and we're looking at the waterlilies especially, it's all green obviously. Now for me, this time a year, if you see the herbs here, we have just incredible amount of variety. This is one of my favorites. This is lemon balm, or melisse as it's known in French. Really, really fragrant, really green beautiful, great aroma. We're also looking at these beautiful potted herbs, this beautiful rosemary over here. We have some beautiful fresh growing little peppers over here. So really great. These are really nice to pickle and there have been a little sugar to them so we'd like to do like that spicy pickle, sweet style with these baby growing little peppers that you see behind me here, something that we wouldn't normally do with them but they work very, very well, really, really nicely. It kind of complements the sweetness of the tomato, the juiciness of the watermelon, and the beautiful aromatic eggplant. So again it's a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures and colors that we're looking for. Look at the color. Look what I'm talking about here. When I see that, I see the Rothko painting. So spontaneity is really dictated especially for me by the working ingredients by which we're going to do. We start with an idea. We have a concept and then the ingredient takes us in the different directions to be spontaneous. Spontaneity. We have a lot of lovely beautiful ingredients here. We're going to go off and we're going to create this Monet-inspired cascade of late summer goodness. 5. In the Kitchen: Prepping Ingredients: Okay, so, we're back from the green market. We've selected a beautiful array of ingredients that we saw today. We've very simply just taken each individual ingredient, we've looked at what that ingredient is, and we've cut it, and we've shaped it in a way where it's going to be complementary to meld well with everything else so that you get one nice continuous dish. As far as cooking techniques, boiling, steaming, roasting, frying, that really is a function of depending on the dish or what you want to do with it. Obviously, every ingredient reacts very differently depending on what you do to it. So, if you steam a piece of fish, or you fry it, you're going to get a very different result, but that really is up to you and depending on what you want. Today, we're actually doing a very, very light glaze, actually. We're not roasting, because we're not going to get anything that hot. So, we're going to keep the natural essence of the vegetable with the vegetable. So, we're not doing anything too aggressive, we're doing a very light handed cooking today. But, a piece of beef would taste very different if you poach it, as opposed to when you roast it, so it really depends on what you want, and what dish at the end result that you want. That is how cooking knowledge and application of that knowledge really works. So, here we have some lovely herbs and flowers. Some beautiful haricot vert, we have some of the pickled cucumber. These are some lovely little Mirabelle plums and some cherry tomatoes that we were looking at earlier on today. There's some lovely zucchini here, some beautiful pickled cherries, some yellow bordeaux carrots. We have some marble potatoes. We have some lovely watermelon radish. We have some breakfast radish, and we have some french radishes here. Some poblano pepper that we were looking at earlier on as well. Again, just very generally shape so that we have a nice delicate taste once it's cooked. There's some pear here. This is some kale. We have a little bit of the shredded lime radish over here. We're going to take all of this, so we're going to cook it very gently in some salted butter. We're going to compliment that with a lovely risotto, which we have over here. Which we're going to take a little bit of corn, which we saw today. This is the yellow corn as opposed to the white corn that we were looking at, and we're going to just take that and we're going to very, very gently just make a beautiful, beautiful risotto. The risotto rice that we're using is actually an aged risotto rice called acquerello rice which adds a lot of depth of flavor. It's aged for about five years. It's a very hard rice to get, and it has a beautiful nutty, complex flavor to the beautiful vegetables and herbs and flowers that we have here. In terms of cooking, you always start with the best ingredients you can find. So, from a palette point of view, the roles with which these different vegetables and fruits are going to serve, really is what we're looking for as far as the play goes. So, some are pickled, some are raw like these tomatoes, some already cooked because it would take too long to cook them like these beautiful pearl sweet silver onions here. Each one is complementary, so we have something that's very spicy, something that's very neutral to balance off. We have something that's very pickled, and something that's a little sweeter, for example, these lovely plums are nice and sweet, that meld while with the pickled cherries that we have here. So, each one is a nice counterbalance. The risotto part is the fat that is going to tie everything together and it's going to add a nice platform with which these vegetables are going to really speak their voice. But each one has its own character, and the trick is to look at each one and decide what you want to do with each particular vegetable. For this particular preparation, I wouldn't have everything pickled because it would be too much. I wouldn't have everything non pickled because that would obviously be a little bit too flat. We need a little high and low notes. It's the same as composing music, you have peaks and drops, so you need to be able to take something and have it on a high note and something on a low note. So, we're going to start this dish by making the risotto because that's going to take the longest to cook. We're going to take a little bit of butter and we're going to just melt that in the pan. We're going to take some lovely torpedo shallots right here. We're going to put these in, these have been diced very finely so that they cook nice and evenly. We're going to put a tiny, tiny pinch of salt. The salt helps to bring out the water in the vegetable so it doesn't burn. We're going to take a little touch of this rice this is the acquerello rice. This is the rice that's been age right now. So, this is looking really quite nice. I'm looking at the shallots, they're nice and even. I take some right here I can see, I can smell that they already quite nicely cooked. We're going to take a little touch of rice, not too much, like so, and we're going to just generally stir this in very gently so as not to beat up the rice. I'm going to take some of this beautiful [inaudible] stock, this is a garlic and leek stock. It's been brought up to a boil. I'm going to put just a little bit right here, just on top like this and we're going to just turn the heat down very gently. We're just going to simmer this. This generally takes about eighteen to twenty minutes to cook, so we're going to let this cook very gently on the side like so. Rice has now been cooking for twenty minutes very gently. The way that I will always check is I squeeze it, like so. I can see the very inside. That's very, very lightly al dente, but just right. So, what we're going to do is we're going to take this off, I'm going to add some raw corn to this. This is the yellow corn. I'm going to just stir this in very gently, like so. Take a little touch of butter, like so, and I'm going to just gently monte that in. I'm going to put a pinch of salt in here. I'm going to just let that sit. We want this to be quite nice and creamy, and just ever so gentle on the palate. Work well with the vegetables. 6. Creating the Dish: The process of cooking, as a chef point of view, when you start you generally learn dishes and techniques that other chefs have done, and you apply that in your own cooking. Now, the challenge then is to take what you've learnt and build on that, and develop your own voice in terms of the cuisine and gastronomy and take that, then you develop your own style and your own, I guess, lineage of what you do, and then have the other young cooks take it from there and pass the baton on as it were. That takes time. I mean, decades. Ask any great chef, it's not something which is learned over one, two or three years, it takes years, years and years of practice and of refining, and you never stop. It's something which you have to be born in here to enjoy doing it and to want to do it, because as I said before, the art and the craft there's a middle ground there. So, what we do is we have taken a lot of these basic techniques that I learned 20 plus years ago when I started cooking, and I still use the same technique but then as we have learned to do other different things, developed our own techniques and feel for the voice of what we do, we build on those and develop them. So that really is what we're doing here in regards to the dish that we're doing today. So, this technique we call shimmies which is short cover. We shimmies the pan with the butter, we cover it with the butter. So now, we just turn everything in the butter as we put it in. We're going to take the beautiful apron here. These beautiful pieces of zucchini. We're not going to put the red beetroot in because that's going to make everything go pink. So, I'm going to start with putting in the beautiful, golden and the pink beet first. We're going to warm this up at the very end. So as you can see we're starting with all of the more textured items here. So here we have some beautiful pink rose potatoes, we have some lovely small purple Peruvian potatoes. These are some baby little fingerling potatoes. Again, all very simply done. Radishes from the market. We have some breakfast and we have some French radish here. These little pink radishes. We have some lovely cauliflower florets. Then ever so gently just mix these beautiful vegetables. Some small little onions here, and some pickle little rams here, which we pickled earlier in the spring. Again, acidity, depth of flavor. Now, we can start to add in some of these beautiful poblano peppers. We're going to go over here and we're going to just give the rossato a nice stir and as you can see it's definitely tightened up, which is exactly what we want it to do. So now we're going to plate the beautiful vegetables that we've just cooked. The idea for this is looking at those water lilies and taking those layers of depth and color, and looking at what we want to see in the foreground and what we want to see in the background as the same idea as when you eat something. What's going to be on the very top of the dish, the middle and the bottom? We're building on layers of flavor. So for this particular one we're going to start with the cooked vegetables on the very base, then we're going to finish with the leafy herbs and flowers on the very top. Same way that you would look at a painting. You have the green that pops first, then you have the beautiful moss and the pastel colors that seem to be deeper back in the painting. It's the same thing with this and it's the same thing on the pollard as well. So, we're going to start with a little touch of spicy tomato vinaigrette, with those beautiful heirloom tomatoes that we saw at the market. The dill flowers that we saw at the market. The red ribbon sorrel. Some lovely Thai basil. Lemon balm that we were looking up at the market. Purslane. Then we have some lovely flowers here. These lovely pansies here. We're going to put little deposits of this rossato and corn, like so. Now, we're going to finish the dish with this lovely herbs and flowers. So here we have our beautiful collagge, different tastes and textures. If you look at it and when you eat it, you'll get the same feel that you're not eating one particular thing. Every mouthful is completely different, because everything on there is meant to be taken in a different context. It's not one repetitive flavor or texture. So you can find a new discovery with every single inch of the dish as well as the canvas with which Manet painted the beautiful waterlilies on. So again, it's the sensibility in the spirit of the painting, not necessarily the exact replica of the painting. So, thank you very much for watching and I look forward to seeing what inspirations, and spontaneity, and beautiful dishes that you'll be inspired by this to come up with for yourself. Remember, the only limits that we put upon ourselves with cooking is what's in here. There are no limits. So please, take and enjoy. 7. Hungry for More?: