Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with culinary passion and innovation. Inspired by his mother Maria, a hotel chef, Austrian-born Puck began his formal culinary training at age 14 and regularly spent time cooking with fresh ingredients from local farms. He started honing his skills in France, 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, part owner and star attraction at the wildly popular restaurant, Ma Maison, a magnet for Hollywood’s rich and famous.
Following the 1981 publication of his first cookbook, “Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen,” based on his Ma Maison recipes, Wolfgang opened Spago on the Sunset Strip in 1982. Spago became an instant success and culinary phenomenon. Wolfgang’s first signature dish, gourmet pizza topped with smoked salmon and caviar, put him and Spago on the Los Angeles foodie map. Spago Beverly Hills, Wolfgang’s flagship fine dining restaurant, opened in 1997, maintains a cutting-edge role as a creative culinary force, with a combination of updated Spago classics and Austrian-inspired recipes from Wolfgang’s childhood, using the highest-quality, all-natural and organic local ingredients, whenever possible.
Today, Spago’s culinary success has been repeated in various locales, with Wolfgang Puck fine dining restaurants from Maui to Las Vegas to Atlantic City. Together with senior managing partner Tom Kaplan and managing partners Lee Hefter, David Robins, Joe Essa and Barbara Lazaroff, Puck has taken the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group brand to a level by which many other celebrity chefs are measured. The Wolfgang Puck name stands for innovative tastes, the most healthful food, the humane treatment of animals and genuine hospitality, providing guests with the very best in eating and dining WELL.
After marking Spago’s 25th anniversary in 2007, Wolfgang evolved his personal passions and philosophies into more formal policies to maintain his exacting standards. In March 2007, Chef Puck and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that the Wolfgang Puck Companies have begun implementing an historic animal welfare program that’s the first-of-its-kind. Puck’s far-reaching, nine-point program, aimed at curbing many of the worst cruelties associated with factory farming in the United States, will meet The HSUS’ most progressive standards and will cover all Wolfgang Puck lines of business including fine dining group restaurants, express franchises, catering and events and consumer products.
For more than a decade, Chef Puck, along with partner Carl Schuster, and his Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) company have created the cuisine for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' post-Oscar-show Governor’s Ball, the official party of the Academy Awards®. In addition to the Governor’s Ball, WPC caters numerous movie premieres, galas, fashion shows, charity functions and corporate and entertainment events, as well as in-home catering.
Wolfgang Puck Catering, established in May 1998, headquartered in the Hollywood & Highland® entertainment complex, home to the Kodak Theatre and annual Academy Awards, provides exclusive, premium dining and catering services to renowned venues across the nation including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, University of Chicago Gleacher Center, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago History Museum, Dallas Nasher Sculpture Center, Nokia Theatre Dallas, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Caesars Colosseum, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, San Francisco’s Presidio’s Officer’s Club, Presidio’s Golden Gate Club, Presidio’s Log Cabin, Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Seattle Design Center, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum, and Contemporary Art Museum St.Louis. Coming soon to the extensive Wolfgang Puck Catering venues are Newseum in Washington DC, the La Jolla Playhouse and two international venues in Berlin and London.
In Los Angeles, Wolfgang Puck Catering venues include Hollywood & Highland, The Kodak Theatre, The Highlands Nightclub, Sony Picture Studios, Griffith Observatory, Kidspace Children’s Museum, El Rey Theatre, Universal Studios back lot, Century City Hospital, California Speedway, La Jolla Playhouse, Staples Center, Home Depot Center and Pacific Design Center.
With new venues opening every few months, Wolfgang Puck Catering has become one of the fastest growing catering companies in the country. Chef Puck and WPC are committed the Seafood Watch Program, which allows WPC to offer sustainable seafood options on their catering menus.
Chef Puck also oversees Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. which was established to manage global brand strategy across his business activites in his fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express restaurants, as well as consumer packaged goods, kitchen appliances and utensils, book publishing, media content and licensing.
The Express restaurants emphasize quality and freshness and offer Wolfgang’s authentic recipes and menu innovation at affordable prices. Launched in 1991, Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express has since expanded to more than 80 locations in major urban and suburban retail centers, airports and supermarkets throughout the United States, Canada and Japan.
Wolfgang’s empire includes branded cookware, utensils and appliances sold on Home Shopping Network, Sam's Club and the Frontgate catalogue. Other packaged goods include Wolfgang Puck All-Natural pizza, All-Natural and Organic Wolfgang Puck Soups, Stocks and Broths and Wolfgang Puck’s Coffee.
Wolfgang has published six popular cookbooks, including his most recent “Wolfgang Puck Makes it Easy.” His weekly syndicated newspaper column, “Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen” debuted in Tribune newspapers in 2003 and now appears in more than 30 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada with a combined circulation of more than 5.3 million.
Chef Puck has been a regularly featured guest on “Good Morning America” for nearly 20 years. His fine dining influence is even prominent in the fictional hotel-casino, The Montecito, on NBC’s “Las Vegas.” The show includes a replica of a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and Wolfgang has also appeared on the popular show.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Wolfgang has been honored with many awards and accolades, including the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year, twice, plus Outstanding Restaurant of the Year for Spago Beverly Hills and Outstanding Service Award for Spago, Beverly Hills. His Food Network program, “Wolfgang Puck,” won Daytime Emmy Awards for two consecutive years.
Wolfgang is actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations, including his own Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation. The foundation supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival which benefits Meals on Wheels and has raised more than $15 million since its inception in 1982.