Wolfgang Puck: A Pioneer Of Unification

Wolfgang Puck: A Pioneer Of Unification

Austrian Chef Wolfgang Puck developed a passion for the culinary world early on as a child as he enjoyed cooking at his mother’s side. With encouragement from her, an established chef herself, Wolfgang started his formal training at 14 years of age. Following his passion for the culinary arts, young Wolfgang learned the fundamentals of fine dining in some of France’s greatest restaurants, including Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco and the Michelin three-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence.

At the age of 24, Wolfgang left Europe for Los Angeles and very quickly garnered the attention of the Hollywood elite as chef, and eventually part owner, of Ma Maison in West Hollywood. The restaurant became a magnet for the rich and famous, compelled by his dynamic personality and culinary brilliance. He had an innate understanding of the potential for California cuisine, and was pivotal in its rise to national attention during the late 1970s.


In his early career, Puck already showed enlightened vision and unique creativity that bridged tradition and invention, which allowed him to create cuisines that transcended culture and conventionalism.

The name Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with the best in restaurant hospitality and the ultimate in all aspects of the culinary arts. The famous chef has built an empire that encompasses three separate Wolfgang Puck entities: Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc.

Following the success of his flagship restaurant, Spago, Puck went on to open Chinois on Main in Santa Monica in 1983. His early exposure to Southern California’s multicultural population intrigued him, inspiring him to fuse the Asian flavours and products of Korean, Chinese and Thai neighbourhoods in Los Angeles with his French and California-based cuisine in a fine dining setting. Chinois on Main brought diners a fresh and imaginative Asian-fusion menu that laid the groundwork for fusion cooking in America.


Further encouraged by his new-found fusion inspiration, Puck opened his third restaurant, Postrio, in the Prescott Hotel off San Francisco’s Union Square in 1989. Postrio also drew upon the multi-ethnic nature of its surroundings, further spreading the popularity of multi-cultural dishes in San Francisco and beyond.

In 1997, Puck moved Spago to an elegant setting on Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills. His menu blazed new ground, with a combination of updated Spago classics and newly conceived items created by the award-winning talents of Managing Partner/Executive Chef Lee Hefter. The seasonal menu drew inspiration from Puck’s favourite childhood dishes, offering a selection of Austrian specialties such as Wienerschnitzel and Kaiserschmarren. Spago Beverly Hills garnered two coveted Michelin stars, one of only three Los Angeles restaurants to achieve this accolade.

By this time, the idea of inventing fine dining cuisines by melding multiple tastes, techniques and cultures had caught on in the global culinary scene, and chefs everywhere—both inspired by Puck or otherwise—had started their own experiments and created a new segment in the international culinary industry.

After opening Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars in 1992, Puck went on to open five additional restaurants in the city, including Postrio Bar & Grill at The Venetian in 1999, Lupo at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 1999, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand in 2004, CUT at The Palazzo in 2008 and, in 2010, Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina, located at The Shops at Crystals, the spectacular 500,000 sq. ft. retail, entertainment and dining district in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.

In September 2011, Puck opened his first European venture, CUT in London at the new 45 Park Lane from The Dorchester Collection. A month after opening CUT, Puck furthered his relationship with The Dorchester Collection by overseeing the food and beverage operations at the historic Hotel Bel-Air, including a new restaurant called Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, plus in-room dining, catering and events. In spring 2014, Puck made his first foray into the Middle East with the opening of CUT at The Address Downtown Dubai. A number of new fine dining restaurants are in development in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well as two in the United States, all of which will open by the end of 2015.


One of Puck’s most iconic dishes is possibly his pork schnitzel. Found exclusively at Spago, Puck makes his schnitzel by deep frying cutlets of Kurobuto pork—a deeply marbled heritage meat imported from Japan—combined with warm potato salad, and presented in a famous American way. Another signature combination is Puck’s grilled lamb chops at Chinois, which brings Asian flair to the famous Greek lamb chops by adding cilantro mint vinaigrette. Another favourite is the English roast beef fused with Korean spring rolls, garnished by Vietnamese lemongrass.

Through determination and an unrelenting pioneering spirit, Puck made fusion cuisine what it is today: a global trend followed by many renowned kitchens, which allowed for an endless flow of creativity and finesse in the fine art of culinary creation. These days Puck is still innovating, so much so that the term “fusion” has become seemingly too simplistic to describe this widely popular culinary segment. Puck, along with many others, has succeeded in taming the cultural values and differing tastes of multiple regions, converting their volatility into a unified spectrum of dishes that brings the best of each region’s culinary expertise. Needless to say, this elevated form of cooking has taken the world by storm. (www.wolfgangpuck.com)


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