Paul Liebrandt In Defense Of Fine Dining And A Unified New York

Eddie Huang might continue to remind us Manhattan keeps on making it and Brooklyn keeps on taking it, but Paul Liebrandt of Corton in Tribeca and the upcoming The Elm in Williamsburg explained how the Manhattan v. Brooklyn culinary showdown is overrated using a surprisingly logical approach: maps. Said Paul (who lives in Manhattan) to GrubStreet regarding his trans-borough expansion:

“I mean, Williamsburg is so close, proximity-wise. We’re all in the same city; we’re all part of it, and it’s not really at all like going to the West Coast. It may sound a bit corny, but we’re all New Yorkers — I consider myself a New Yorker. For me, it all comes under this “New York” umbrella. I’m proud to be here, and I’m very, very thrilled to be doing this project in Williamsburg.

We’re all friends here, guys. As for the death of Manhattan fine dining as we know it (particularly with regard to recently closed hotel restaurants Robuchon and Ducasse):

“The two examples you just gave were union, which doesn’t help a business like this. If you take a look at that model and its pay scale, you’ll understand why. A dishwasher making $35 an hour may be good for the dishwasher, but not for a small restaurant. Every place that does something different, especially this white-tablecloth, fine-dining kind of thing — some people like it and others don’t. With a stand-alone restaurant, like Corton, we’re not supported by a real-estate group in the background or something like that.”

The important takeaway here, of course, is that one could have made $35 an hour washing dishes at Ducasse. Bye forever, dream job.


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