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

10 Things You Need to Know About Top Chef Seattle Episode 12

Despite growing up in a non-fried chicken household, Lizzie manages to make one of the better dishes in the Elimination Challenge.

The world has been righted — at least in one way. But, outside of that, we all observed how hard it is to make good fried chicken. That’s not entirely true, actually. Maybe if more of the cheftestants had actually attempted to make traditional fried chicken instead of, say, chicken cordon bleu? Anyway, here are some pertinent points. Spoilers ahead.

1. Josie’s response to Kristen’s leaving: “I feel heavy this morning.”

2. Mr. Katsuya Uechi (Katsuya) says, “Always think, ‘How do you make people who eat happy?'” I’m guessing by feeding them, but what do I know?

3. Just because Sheldon cooks Asian food does not mean he makes sushi. Jeez!

4. Josie says she throws sushi parties in which sushi is served on naked women. This does not sound at all sanitary.Continue Reading

10 Things You Need to Know About Top Chef Seattle Episode 10

“Josie, Daniel Larusso called. He’d like his headband back.”

This week’s episode featured one very hokey QFC — but a much cooler EC! In a precursor to restaurant wars, the cheftestants were asked to cook a dish that would represent their concept. I love this as it lets chefs cook their own food so that we can get to know them better. 

1. Josie made an “Asians represent!” remark that had everyone in the room rolling their eyes.

2. Padma refers to ginger as one of the most versatile and refreshing ingredients in the world. I’d give that distinction to citrus or mint. I don’t find ginger at all refreshing.

3. Micah used a P-word that I found inappropriate and disparaging. Who are this season’s editors? Are they trying to make us dislike everyone?

4. You can use an iSi canister for more than whipping cream. It’s a great way to infuse flavor through pressure in a brief amount of time, as demonstrated by Kristen.

5. Josie managed to work in a brag about her time as a football player, noting that she can “take a few hits.” If only she could take hints.Continue Reading

Well-Reviewed: Recent Reviews of OpenTable Restaurants

Wolfgang Puck's latest restaurant in Los Angeles is another winner!

OpenTable restaurant reviews in the news…

* Atlanta’s Alma Cocina displays “a carefully wrought tastefulness that always let you know you’re in a nice restaurant.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Cinghiale in Baltimore “reaches its prime.” [Baltimore Sun]

* At Diva at the Met in Vancouver “art and science create lusty dining.” [Vancouver Sun]

* Gael Greene is already plotting her return to New York’s Empellón Cocina. [Insatiable Critic]

* Farmstead in California’s wine country “is beginning to fulfill its promise.” [SF Gate]

* Jungsik in Manhattan “reinterprets Korean cuisine.” [New York Times]

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles “gives the hotel a serious restaurant and the chef an ideal California spot.” [Los Angeles Times]