Cooking | June 26, 2020 7:31 am

Let Michelin-Starred Chef Paul Liebrandt Be Your New Cooking Instructor

Liebrandt will kick off a slate of chef-led virtual cooking classes called Master Series on Saturday

Chef Paul Liebrandt attends The New York Culinary Experience in 2012. (Neilson Barnard/Getty for The NY Culinary Experience)
Chef Paul Liebrandt attends The New York Culinary Experience in 2012. (Neilson Barnard/Getty for The NY Culinary Experience)
Neilson Barnard

In conjunction with online culinary platform CocuSocial, Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt is cooking up something new.

Liebrandt, who earned three stars from the New York Times for his work at Atlas and was awarded two Michelin stars at former restaurant Corton, will teach the first edition of Master Series, a fresh offering of live virtual cooking classes that will directly connect world-renowned chefs with home cooks.

Though Liebrandt has done live cooking demos before, he insists his appearance on Master Series, which takes place on June 27 (tickets are $29), will not be a demonstration.

“This is not something people are tuning in just to watch,” he tells InsideHook. “I’m not the star, the customer is the star. They’re going to be cooking along with me. It’s like me stepping into a customer’s kitchen. from my home and showing them the dish that we’re going to be doing. It’s a more personal, and I think more effective, way with which to demonstrate cooking than just doing a demonstration. If you’re actually doing the cooking with me in real time, it’s much more meaningful.”

In addition to an instructional portion, the Master Series classes will also include question-and-answer sessions after the cooking is complete to allow attendees to interact with their culinary instructors.

“I think for the customer, it’s very enjoyable to do this,” Liebrandt says. “There are lots of cooking classes available to the general public. But this one, with the way CocuSocial has set it up, people such as myself can bring decades of experience to the home chef in a very personalized way. For me, that’s very important. For the customer, I think that’s obviously very important as well. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and the chef comes out to your table and says, ‘Hello.’ You feel very well taken care of and you feel good about being there. Same thing with this.”

Liebrandt is planning to make this elevated version of fish and chips on Master Series.
Evan Sung

Though it may seem like shifting from a world-class chef to a world-class cooking instructor (especially given the virtual format) might prove difficult, Liebrandt points out that teaching has always been a part of his job.

“ln a commercial kitchen in a restaurant, I have a team of young people who are all learning every day. They don’t join your employment as fully formed chefs. There is a system by which they have to gain the skills for the craft of cooking, as I did when I was young,” he says. “So every day, you’re teaching. You’re teaching recipe development. You’re teaching management. You’re teaching all the elements that make up a fully formed chef. In the CocuSocial lesson, we’re going to be imparting the same knowledge and experience that I would in a commercial kitchen. It doesn’t change, even though the venue has. The underlying sentiment of how we do it doesn’t change, and that’s very important to me.”

For his lesson on Master Series, which will also feature classes with chefs including James Beard award winner David Burke and Top Chef finalist Nyesha Arrington, Liebrandt plans on giving step-by-step instructions from his apartment in Manhattan on how to make an elevated version of fish and chips.

“Our interpretation of a classic fish and chip dish is very fitting for the season that we’re in,” he says. “You don’t really see it taught in a cooking class that often. I don’t know why. Everybody has had fish and chips for the most part, but maybe have never actually cooked something like it. I thought it would be something people would enjoy eating, but also a dish that would give them confidence and a sense of skill. If somebody recognizes what they’re doing, they’re going to be much more confident approaching it.”

Confidence, Liebrandt says, is perhaps the most important thing he wants his students to have.

“Being confident is very important in cooking regardless of whether you are a professional or amateur,” he says. “When you step into a kitchen or a class, it’s like stepping into a theater — the people around you, the light, the noise, the expectations. All of that creates an atmosphere that can be difficult if you don’t have the confidence to walk into it. Now, doing Master Series from the confines of your home, you’re not going to have any of that. If you’re in your own kitchen, you’re already going to be more confident. You know where everything is. I would think you will get better results with this platform and the way in which we’re doing this virtual cooking than you would in an actual kitchen, where it can be intimidating. Not so much the food part of it, the cooking part’s the easy part. That’s not really where the confidence comes in.”

And for anyone who is picturing a Master Series lesson like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen or Chopped, Liebrandt makes it clear that’s not the case.

“They’re not going into the military, it’s a cooking class,” he says. “They’re not going to need to watch Gordon Ramsay screaming at people. That’s entertainment, that’s not what we’re doing here. We’re doing something I would hope everybody will be able to take with them. I hope they will always remember a virtual cooking platform where Paul Liebrandt showed them how to make fish and chips and that they can then take that and cook it again and again and bring back the memory, of where they learned it. That’s a really important thing.”

Should you miss out on Liebrandt’s class or any of the other Master Series lessons, another new live-stream cooking class service called Chefstreams has also launched to help bring James Beard nominees and Top Chef contestants into the homes of aspiring home chefs.

Featuring chefs like NYC’s Russell Jackson, San Fran’s Simi Adebajo, Boston’s Tiffani Faison and Kwame Onwuachi of Washington D.C., Chefstreams’ classes are priced at $30 each and the service will be donating all of its profits in June and July to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and National Bail Out. 

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