Wolfgang Puck

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Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck 2012.jpg
Wolfgang Puck, Los Angeles, California, USA, on September 15, 2012
Born Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig
(1949-07-08) July 8, 1949 (age 66)
Sankt Veit an der Glan, Carinthia, Austria
Education Apprenticeship
Spouse(s) Marie France Trouillot (1975-1980; divorced)
Barbara Lazaroff (1983-2003; divorced)
Gelila Assefa (2007-present)
Children 4
Culinary career
Cooking style California, French, and Fusion

Wolfgang Johannes Puck (born Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig; July 8, 1949) is an Austrian-born American celebrity chef, restaurateur, and occasional actor. Wolfgang Puck restaurants, catering services, cookbooks and licensed products are run by Wolfgang Puck Companies, with three divisions.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Wolfgang Puck was born in Sankt Veit an der Glan, Carinthia, Austria.[2] He learned cooking from his mother, who sometimes worked as a pastry chef.[3][4] He trained as an apprentice under Raymond Thuilier at L'Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence, at Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and at Maxim's Paris 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 and part owner at Ma Maison restaurant. At that time, he changed his professional name to Puck because he thought his surname was hard to pronounce. He playfully picked a swear word that began with the letter F but changed the first letter to prevent it from being obscene.[5]

Following the 1981 publication of his first cookbook, Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen based on his Ma Maison recipes, Puck and Barbara Lazaroff opened the restaurant Spago on the Sunset Strip in 1982. Fifteen years later, in 1997, Puck and Lazaroff opened the award-winning Spago in Beverly Hills, which has been recognized as one of the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. since 2004. His success enabled him to launch the Wolfgang Puck Companies which includes the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. and Wolfgang Puck Catering. The Wolfgang Puck Companies encompasses over 20 fine dining restaurants, Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., premium catering services, more than 80 Wolfgang Puck Express operations, and kitchen and food merchandise, including cookbooks and canned foods. He is the official caterer for the Academy Awards Governors Ball, and has parlayed his celebrity into acting; his credits include Frasier, a recurring role as himself on Las Vegas and a cameo appearance in The Weather Man. He also appeared as himself on Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters, as well as Cooking Class with Wolfgang Puck on The Food Network, and in an American Idol season finale episode where he introduced unusual foods to Kellie Pickler in comic relief segments. He also made a cameo appearance as himself on an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and appeared in a TV commercial advertising California (along with famous people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Nicholson).

Wolfgang Puck is active in philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations, co-founding the Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation in 1982. The foundation supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival which benefits Meals on Wheels; it has raised more than United States $15 million since its inception.

Puck is The Honorary Chair Chef for the "Five Star Sensation" Benefit in Cleveland, Ohio every two years helping to bring $10 million to support The Ireland Cancer Foundation of University Hospitals.

Wolfgang Puck's favorite food is macarons.[6]

Wolfgang Puck's signature dish at his original restaurant, Spago, is House Smoked Salmon Pizza.

Wolfgang Puck married designer Gelila Assefa in 2007. He has four children, two from his second marriage and two with Assefa. His second wife, Barbara, continues to play a role in his restaurants, being instrumental in interior designs of the new restaurants and is also listed by the company as co-founder.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

Spago Beverly Hills received a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Service Award in 2005. It was awarded two Michelin stars in the 2008 and 2009 Los Angeles Michelin Guide.[8]

CUT Beverly Hills was awarded a Michelin star in 2007.

In 1993, Spago Hollywood was inducted into the Nation's Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame.[9] The next year it received the James Beard Restaurant of the Year Award.

In 2002, Puck received the 2001–2002 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Service Show, Wolfgang Puck.

In 2013, Puck was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.[1]


A matchbook from Postrio, circa 1995


Wolfgang Puck at the 2009 Academy Awards
  • Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen (1980)
  • The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook (1986)
  • Adventures in the Kitchen with Wolfgang Puck (1991)
  • Pizza, Pasta, and More (2000)
  • Live, Love, Eat (2002)
  • Wolfgang Puck Makes it Easy (2004)

Television and movie credits[edit]

Mentioned by the character Richard Thornburg in Die Hard (1988), played by William Atherton, when on the phone to someone he wishes to take to a restaurant. He says, "Of course we can get a table. I know Wolfgang personally. I interviewed him."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Culinary Hall of Fame
  2. ^ Sissons, Jemima (August 26, 2011). "Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen Adventures". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Chang, Andrea (March 7, 2010). "Strong-willed top chef". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Peck, Tom (1 November 2011). "Obama's favourite chef to open new restaurant in UK". The Independent. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Wolfgang Puck Pizza Pasta and More, Grammercy Publishers, 2004, Forward section.
  6. ^ Wolfgang Puck, Wolfgang Puck answers 10 questions published by thefoodpaper.com
  7. ^ http://barbaralazaroff.com/about-barbara-lazaroff.php
  8. ^ Hallock, Betty (June 25, 2009). "Michelin won't be publishing 2010 guides for L.A. or Las Vegas". Daily Dish (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  9. ^ Nation's Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame
  10. ^ http://www.delish.com/restaurants/best-chefs/a706/celebrity-chef-wolfgang-puck/
  11. ^ YourSingapore.com - CUT
  12. ^ CUT BY WOLFGANG PUCK at Fourseasons Hotel Bahrain Bay
  13. ^ "The Source Washington DC :: Wolfgang Puck Asian Fusion Restaurant". Wolfgangpuck.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
  14. ^ [1] and Wolfgang Puck Pizzaria and Cucina [2]
  15. ^ TV guide http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/wolfgang-puck/216655
  16. ^ IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0716908/

External links[edit]