With a menu that fused California ingredients with classic French cuisine, Wolfgang Puck opened his first restaurant, Spago—Italian slang for spaghetti—in 1982. In the ensuing years, he would capitalize on the success of Spago by opening other places across the U.S. Puck has also opened casual eateries, written cookbooks and starred in Wolfgang Puck, a TV series on the Food Network.
Chef, restaurateur and television personality Wolfgang Johannes Puck was born on July 8, 1949, in St. Veit, Austria. As a teenager, Puck initially studied the culinary arts in Austria, before moving to France, where he apprenticed at L'Ousteau de Baumaniere in Les Baux-de-Provence and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. After immigrating to the United States in 1973, he briefly lived in New York and Indianapolis before becoming executive chef at the esteemed Ma Maison in Los Angeles.
Successful Restaurant Business
With a unique menu that fused California ingredients with classic French cuisine, Wolfgang Puck opened his first restaurant, Spago—Italian slang for spaghetti—in 1982. Situated in the heart of Hollywood's Sunset Strip, the bistro became a hot spot for celebrity clientele while Puck was credited with rejuvenating California cuisine. The popularity of Spago was bolstered by its fashionable decor, bustling open kitchen, and imaginative pizza varieties (toppings ranged from caviar and lox to duck sausage). In the ensuing years, Puck would capitalize on the success of Spago by opening establishments throughout the U.S., including Spago Beverly Hills, Spago Chicago, Spago Las Vegas and Spago Palo Alto.
In 1983, Puck launched the extravagant Chinese restaurant Chinois. Internationally recognized for its Asian-inspired cuisine and exotic interior, Chinois achieved rave reviews from the culinary community. Puck's restaurant empire continued to thrive with the opening of Postrio in 1989 and Granita in 1991.
In an effort to bring his California cuisine to a broader market, Puck recently launched a chain of casual eateries called Wolfgang Puck Cafes, as well as a line of signature frozen pizzas and canned soups, distributed at local supermarkets throughout America. Furthermore, he is the author of a number of cookbooks, including Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen (1980), The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook (1986), Adventures in the Kitchen with Wolfgang Puck (1991) and Pizza, Pasta, and More (2000). In 2001, Puck entered the television arena with a self-titled series, Wolfgang Puck, on cable TV's popular Food Network.
In 1983, Puck married Barbara Lazaroff, with whom he has two sons. In addition to being his business partner, Lazaroff has played a key role in the architecture and design of Puck's West Coast restaurants. The couple has worked on behalf of a number of charitable organizations, most notably the Wolfgang Puck Foundation, which is dedicated to raising money for the Meals on Wheels program. For their efforts, they were awarded the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1994 and the Nation's Restaurant News Innovator of the Year Award in 1997. In December 2002, after 20 years of marriage, the seemingly indefatigable couple filed for divorce.
In 2007 Puck married designer Gelila Assefa, with whom he has two children.
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