Puck Yeah! Wolfgang Puck Talks Trends

Blog WP_by Greg Gorman copyNo matter where you look, there’s Wolfgang Puck. Announcing plans to open his first restaurant in New York City, doing a cooking demonstration on a morning show, making a pitch on QVC for his latest product, guesting on The Simpsons, gracing a slew of cookbooks at Barnes & Noble, catering the Academy Awards Governors Ball, beaming back at you from products galore in the grocery store, making an appearance at one of his many restaurants around the world, including The Source in Washington, D.C., Cut in Las Vegas, or Chinois in Los Angeles. The man is everywhere.

This omnipresence is even more amazing given the fact that the Austrian-born toque has been headlining the celebrity chef circuit for three and a half decades – before that circuit even existed. In fact, he helped create it. Before Top Chef and the Food Network – both of which he later appeared on – Puck became a household name by becoming the forward-thinking face of California cuisine by debuting his now-iconic Spago on the Sunset Strip in 1982. Like Puck himself, it’s still going strong, though it’s now located in Beverly Hills, and there are spinoffs in Los Vegas, Maui, Singapore, Istanbul, and Avon, Colorado. That dazzling debut earned him a frenzied fan base, which helped launch a career as a restaurateur, television personality, cookbook author, and the face of dozens of products.

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Over the course of more than 30 years in the spotlight, Puck has never been short of opinions. He’s always happy to share them in his practically trademarked Austrian accent. Here Wolfgang Puck talks trends, sharing his biggest likes and dislikes from over the course of his career.

LIKES

Spice is Nice
“I enjoy spicier food than I used to. Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, the first thing I ask for is crushed red pepper.”

Not-too-sweet Sweets
“I love dark chocolate with minimum 70 percent cocoa. It can have a filling, but it can’t be too sweet. I don’t like sweet for sweet. I like sweet with flavor. If it’s overly sweet, you can’t taste anything. That’s why milk chocolate doesn’t taste like chocolate. So I always tell our pastry chefs that if you have caramel and salt, it’s better than caramel by itself.”Continue Reading

Chef Watch: Bauer and Co.’s Rising Star Chefs 2010; How Wolfgang Became a Brand; Nobu’s Rise to the Top; Ed Brown’s Loves; Susur Lee’s Chicken Feet; David Myers on Sona’s Shuttering, and More

Chef-Watch

Chefs making food and news…

* San Francisco Chronicle executive food and wine editor Michael Bauer and his colleagues select the Bay Area’s Rising Star Chefs for 2010. Included are John Paul Carmona (Manresa), Perry Hoffman (étoile), Timothy Hollingsworth (The French Laundry), and Charlie Kleinman (Wexler’s). [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Wolfgang Puck, whose restaurants include 20.21, Chinois, CUT Las Vegas, Spago Beverly Hills, and many others, details of his ascension up the culinary ladder — and reveals he almost ended it all when he was fired from his first kitchen job as a young man. [Los Angeles Times]

* Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu London, Nobu New York, and others) shares his similar success story, which also includes suicidal thoughts after his first restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska, burned down, leaving him in serious debt. [ABC News]

* Ed Brown of eighty one in New York reveals a few of his favorite food-related things. [The Daily Beast]

* Susur Lee thinks that New Yorkers, like parents,”just don’t understand,” and we’re not ready to embrace chicken feet at Shang. Oh no, he didn’t! (Totally kidding, Chef Lee. You’re probably right!) [Grub Street New York]

* Laurent Tourondel (BLT Fish, BLT Market, BLT Steak) is ending his partnership with Jimmy Haber. They will, essentially, split the BLT empire. All I care about is who gets the bacon. 😉 [The New York Times]

* David Myers discusses shuttering Los Angeles restaurant Sona (temporarily) in May while he scouts for and sets up shop in a new space. [Los Angeles Times]