Chef Bios: Wolfgang Puck

Staff Writer
The life of a culinary emperor

Today, Wolfgang Puck is a household name, known as much for his culinary prowess as he is for his business acumen. As a co-founder of the Wolfgang Puck tri-divisional Companies, Puck currently sits at the top of a multi-million dollar culinary empire.

Puck was born in St. Veit, Austria, the son of Maria Worth Puck, a local pastry chef, to whom Puck attributes his earliest cooking lessons and his passion for the culinary arts. At the age of 14, with the support of his mother, he moved to France to begin formal culinary training. After 10 years in France, Puck relocated to the United States, settling first in Indianapolis and later in Los Angeles, Calif., whose high-end culinary identity he would largely become synonymous with.

Upon arriving in L.A., Puck started working at Ma Maison in West Hollywood where he went on to eventually become a part owner. After six years, Puck left to open his own restaurant, Spago, also in West Hollywood. An immediate success, Spago was named winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant of the Year in 1994. Puck was honored twice with the Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year in 1991 and again in 1998, for his work there, becoming the only chef in history to ever win the award twice.

After Puck's success with Spago, Puck went on to open over 30 restaurants in cities across the nation under the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group division. In 1988 Puck partnered with Carl Schuster to form the second division of his company, Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC), which currently holds the title of official caterer for the post-Academy Award’s Governor's Ball. The third and final division of the Companies, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., includes amongst its enterprises two casual chain restaurants, Wolfgang Puck Bistro and Wolfgang Puck Express, along with other of Puck’s consumer products, cookbooks, and television and Internet programming. In 2002, Puck’s television series, Wolfgang Puck, won a Daytime Emmy award. In 2006, he opened CUT, a steakhouse at the renouned, Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Wilshire. It received a Michelin star after only one year of business. 

On a humanitarian level, he is the co-founder of the Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation, which hosts the annual American Wine & Food Festival.

 

QUICK FACTS:

Culinary Style: French, Fusion, California  

Restaurants: Spago, Chinois, Postrio, Spago Las Vegas, Spago Maui, Spago Beaver Creek, Postrio, Trattoria del Lupo, CUT Beverly Hills, CUT Las Vegas, CUT, London, CUT Singapore, Five-Sixty, The Source, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill Los Ageles, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill Las Vegas, 20.21, Wolfgang Puck Grille, Wolfgang Puck American Grille, WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina, Jai by Wolfgang Puck, Red | Seven  , Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Chinois, Wolfgang Puck Pizza I Bar, Wolfgang Puck Bistro and Cafe, Wolfgang Puck Express, Wolfgang Puck Steak, Wolfgang Puck's Cultural Center Cafes

Born: 1949

DID YOU KNOW?
Puck's biological father was a butcher, but he left Wolfgang's mother before Puck was born. Puck was adopted by his step-father Josef Puck, who gave the chef his now legendary name. 

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