FEATURE ARTICLE

Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Johannes Puck (born Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig; July 8, 1949) is an Austrian celebrity chef, restaurateur, businessman and occasional actor. Wolfgang Puck restaurants, catering services, cookbooks and licensed products are run by Wolfgang Puck Companies, with three divisions.

Life and career 

He was born to Maria Topfschnig and a butcher, who abandoned her before their child’s birth. In 1956, Maria married Josef Puck, who adopted Puck. The marriage produced another son and two daughters.

Puck learned cooking from his mother, who sometimes worked as a pastry chef. He trained as an apprentice under Raymond Thuilier at L’Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence, at Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and at Maxim’s Paris before moving to the United States in 1973 at age 24. After two years at La Tour in Indianapolis, Puck moved to Los Angeles to become chef and part owner at Ma Maison restaurant.

Following the 1981 publication of his first cookbook, Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen based on his Ma Maison recipes, Puck and Barbara Lazaroff opened the restaurant Spago on the Sunset Strip in 1982. Fifteen years later, in 1997, Puck and Lazaroff opened the award-winning Spago in Beverly Hills,[1] which has been recognized as one of the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. since 2004. His success enabled him to launch the Wolfgang Puck Companies which includes the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. and Wolfgang Puck Catering. The Wolfgang Puck Companies encompasses over 20 fine dining restaurants,[2] premium catering services, more than 80 Wolfgang Puck Express operations, and kitchen and food merchandise, including cookbooks and canned foods. He is the official caterer for the Academy Awards Governors Ball, and has parlayed his celebrity into acting; his credits include Frasier, a recurring role as himself on Las Vegas and a cameo appearance on The Weather Man. He also appeared as himself on Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters, as well as Cooking Class with Wolfgang Puck on The Food Network, and in an American Idol season finale episode where he introduced unusual foods to Kellie Pickler in comic relief segments. He also made a cameo appearance as himself on an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and appeared in a TV commercial advertising California (along with famous people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Nicholson).

Puck is active in philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations, co-founding the Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation in 1982. The foundation supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival which benefits Meals on Wheels and has raised more than $15 million since its inception.

Puck is The Honorary Chair Chef for the “Five Star Sensation” Benefit in Cleveland, Ohio every two years helping to bring $10 million to support The Ireland Cancer Foundation of University Hospitals

Puck’s favorite food is macaroons

Puck’s signature dish is House Smoked Salmon Pizza.

Puck is married to designer Gelila Assefa.

Awards and honors  

Spago Beverly Hills received a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Service Award in 2005. It was awarded two Michelin stars in the 2008 and 2009 Los Angeles Michelin Guide.

In 1993, Spago Hollywood was inducted into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame.[6] The next year it received the James Beard Restaurant of the Year Award.

In 2002, Puck received the 2001–2002 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Service Show, Wolfgang Puck.
Restaurants

Spago, Puck’s first restaurant opened on the Sunset Strip (1982) serving California cuisine.
Chinois on Main, Santa Monica, California (1983), Asian fusion.
Postrio, San Francisco (1989), Mediterranean and Asian fusion.
Spago, Beverly Hills (1997), known for serving California cuisine. Spago Beverly Hills, Spago Las Vegas, Spago Maui, and Spago Beaver Creek.
Postrio, Las Vegas.
Trattoria del Lupo, Las Vegas.
CUT in London, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands resort.[7]
Five-Sixty is located in Dallas, Texas and features Asian-inspired New American cuisine.
The Source, Washington, DC, modern interpretation of Asian cuisine located at the Newseum.[8]
Wolfgang Puck B&G (2009) in Los Angeles.
Wolfgang Puck in Walt Disney World. It is located in Downtown Disney.
Museum of Science in Boston.
Wolfgang Puck Grille, a signature restaurant of MGM Grand Detroit in Detroit. ♠ Closed permanently on Mother’s Day 2012. Source: Detroit Free Press Replaced by Wolfgang Puck Steak [2] and Wolfgang Puck Pizzaria and Cucina [3]
Wolfgang Puck American Grille, a signature restaurant located in the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.
Springs Preserve Café, Las Vegas.
WP24 by Wolfgang Puck located in The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles, modern Chinese cuisine.
Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria in Cucina, Las Vegas.
Wolfgang Puck Bistro in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Jai by Wolfgang Puck in La Jolla, CA.
Wolfgang Puck Bistro located in the JC Penney Flagship store in the Manhattan Mall in New York City (opening in Summer 2012).
Wolfgang Puck Express located in JC Penney in Pittsburgh at Monroeville Mall (scheduled for opening in October 2012).
Wolfgang Puck Express located in Denver International Airport in Denver, CO
Wolfgang Puck Express located in Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis, IN
Wolfgang Puck Express located in the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH

MR. WOLFGANG PUCK SIGNATURE DISH:

CANTALONIAN FIRE ROASTED LAMB RACK

CANTALONIAN FIRE ROASTED LAMB RACK

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 shallots, sliced

8 garlic cloves, sliced

1 dry ancho chile, roasted, crushed

2 scallions, thinly sliced into rounds

1 small handful of cilantro leaves

Juice of 2-3 limes

1 tablespoon honey

3 racks of lamb, chine bone removed

Salt and pepper

1 recipe of Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 dry ancho chilies, roasted, crushed

1 fresh Serrano or jalepeno chile, cored, seeded, chopped

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced

3 shallots, sliced

4 whole tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup tomato sauce

Large pinch of saffron threads

1 tablespoon cumin, toasted, crushed

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted, crushed

A few basil and parsley leaves

3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Juice of 1 or 2 limes

Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions for Catalonian Fire Roasted Lamb Rack Recipe

Prepare the marinade. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the shallots, garlic and ancho chile. Cook until barely golden. Remove from heat and add scallions, cilantro leaves, lime juice and honey.

Remove the whole ‘eye’ from the rack, reserving the rib bones, and place in a non-reactive roasting pan with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 hours. Slice the rib bones into 7 or 8 evenly, dividing meat at the bones.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the Romesco sauce: In a shallow roasting pan, combine olive oil, ancho and serano chilies, red bell pepper, shallots, garlic, tomato, tomato sauce, saffron, cumin, coriander, basil, and parsley. Roast for 40 minutes or until the tomatoes start to brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a food processor. Add the toasted almonds and lime juice. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return half of the sauce to the roasting pan and toss in the rib bones. Loosely cover with foil. Cook for 1 hour or until meat is cooked. Remove the foil cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until meat is brown.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Scrape the marinade off the ‘eye’. Season with salt and pepper. Sear over high heat, in a large skillet, until all sides are well browned. Transfer to a shallow roasting pan and coat with the remaining sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes until medium rare. Allow to rest before slicing into 6 equal rounds.

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