Puck began cooking at his mother’s side as a child. She was a chef in the Austrian town where he was born, and with her encouragement, Wolfgang started his formal training at fourteen years of age. As a young chef he worked in some of France’s greatest restaurants, including Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and the Michelin 3-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence. At the age of 24, Wolfgang took the advice of a friend and left Europe for the United States. His first job was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975.
Wolfgang came to Los Angeles in 1975 and very quickly garnered the attention of the Hollywood elite as chef and eventually part owner of Ma Maison in West Hollywood. His dynamic personality and culinary brilliance that bridged tradition and invention made Ma Maison a magnet for the rich and famous, with Wolfgang as the star attraction. He had an innate understanding of the potential for California cuisine, and was pivotal in its rise to national attention during the late 1970s.
Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group
From Ma Maison, Wolfgang went on to create his first flagship restaurant, Spago, originally located in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. From its opening day in 1982, Spago was an instant success and culinary phenomenon. His early signature dishes, such as haute cuisine pizzas topped with smoked salmon and caviar, and Sonoma baby lamb with braised greens and rosemary, put him and Spago on the gourmet map, not just in Los Angeles but throughout the world. Wolfgang and Spago earned many accolades during its popular eighteen years in West Hollywood, including winning the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year, twice, in 1991 and 1998, and the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant of the Year in 1994. Wolfgang is the only chef to have won the Outstanding Chef of the Year Award multiple times.
In 1983, following the success of Spago, Puck went on to open Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. His early exposure to Southern California’s multicultural population intrigued him, inspiring him to fuse the Asian flavors and products of Koreatown, Chinatown, and Thaitown with his French- and California-based cuisine in a fine dining setting. Chinois on Main brings diners a fresh and imaginative Asian-fusion menu that laid the groundwork for fusion cooking in America.
In 1989, Wolfgang opened his third restaurant, Postrio, in the Prescott Hotel off San Francisco’s Union Square. Postrio also drew upon the multi-ethnic nature of its surroundings.
In 1997, Wolfgang moved Spago to an elegant setting on Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills. His menu blazed new ground, with a combination of updated Spago classics and newly conceived items created by the award-winning talents of Managing Partner/Executive Chef Lee Hefter. The seasonal menu drew inspiration from Wolfgang’s favorite childhood dishes, offering a selection of Austrian specialties such as Wienerschnitzel and Kaiserschmarren. Spago Beverly Hills garnered two coveted Michelin Stars, one of only three Los Angeles restaurants to achieve this accolade. In 2012, Wolfgang fearlessly transformed Spago through a complete renovation in both menu and design. A new more modern concept steps to the forefront of the menu at Spago, where guests can find a shift to smaller plates, which Wolfgang believes is reflective of the way people enjoy dining today.
In 2006, Wolfgang opened CUT, a sleek, contemporary steakhouse at the acclaimed Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. After only one year, CUT earned a prestigious Michelin star among numerous other top accolades including Restaurant of the Year by noted food critic John Mariani.
Wolfgang has changed the way Americans cook and eat by mixing classic French techniques combined with California and Asian influences and the freshest and finest ingredients. He also has changed the face of dining in cities throughout the nation, first in Los Angeles, then in Las Vegas, where he was the first star chef to create a contemporary fine dining restaurant, paving the way for other celebrated chefs and the city’s metamorphosis into a dining destination.
After opening Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars in 1992, Wolfgang went on to open five additional restaurants in the city including Postrio Bar & Grill at The Venetian in 1999, Lupo at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 1999, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand in 2004, CUT at The Palazzo in 2008 and in 2010, Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina, located at The Shops at Crystals, the spectacular 500, 000-square-foot retail, entertainment and dining district in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
Since 2001, Wolfgang and his Fine Dining Group have opened restaurants across the United States from Atlantic City (Wolfgang Puck American Grille at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2006) to Maui (Spago at the Four Seasons Resort in 2001). These also include The Source in Washington, DC (2007), Wolfgang Puck Steak and Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina at MGM Grand Detroit (2012), Spago at The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Colorado (2007), Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck at Reunion Tower in Dallas (2009), Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at L.A. Live (2009) and WP24 by Wolfgang Puck at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles (2010). In 2010, Puck took the Fine Dining Group international with the opening of CUT at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. In September 2011, Puck opened his first European venture, CUT in London at the new 45 Park Lane from The Dorchester Collection and in October, Puck furthered his relationship with The Dorchester Collection by overseeing the food and beverage operations at the historic Hotel Bel-Air including a new restaurant, “Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, ” plus in-room dining, catering and events. In spring 2014, Puck made his first foray into the Middle East with the opening of CUT at The Address Downtown Dubai. A number of new fine dining restaurants are in development in Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as two in the United States, all of which will open by the end of 2015.
Wolfgang Puck Catering
Wolfgang formed Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) in May 1998, alongside partner Carl Schuster. The company brings a new level of innovation and inspiration to special event and contract dining services for cultural, corporate and entertainment venues across the country.
Under the leadership of Chef-Partner Matt Bencivenga, WPC offers a restaurant-quality experience in a special event setting for such high profile events as the annual Governors Ball, where Puck has been honored to serve as official chef for the post-Academy Awards® celebrity banquet for nearly 20 years, as well as the ESPY awards, film premieres, presidential galas and fundraisers.
WPC also is responsible for operating iconic cultural and architectural venues in major markets including L.A. LIVE, Sony Pictures Studios, Hollywood & Highland Center and Dolby Theatre, and Pacific Design Center (Los Angeles); Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Union Station, Reunion Tower, Nasher Sculpture Center and AT&T Performing Arts Center (Dallas); Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Chicago Gleacher Center, and Venue Six10 (Chicago); Museum of Science and Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston); ACE Center (Philadelphia); Benaroya Hall, Showbox Market and SoDo, and EMP|SFM (Seattle); Newseum (Washington, DC); The Sunset Room (National Harbor MD); Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta); Walt Disney Family Museum (San Francisco); and Honda Center (Anaheim).
WPC’s strategic partnership with Compass Group has fueled its dramatic growth since 2004, including joint ventures with sister company Restaurant Associates and a national concession agreement with concert promoter Live Nation.