Wolfgang Puck Biography
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Wolfgang Johann Topfschnig, Wolfgang Johannes Puck
Born in: Sankt Veit an der Glan, Austria
Famous as: Chef, Restaurateur
Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Lazaroff (1983-2003), Gelila Assefa (2007-present), Marie France Trouillot (1975-80)
father: Josef Puck
children: Alexander Wolfgang Puck, Byron Puck, Cameron Puck, Oliver Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck is an Austrian-born American celebrity chef and restaurateur, who is famous all over the world for his high-end gourmet restaurants, catering services and cookbooks. Best known for his signature dish, the House Smoked Salmon Pizza, Puck is also much renowned for whipping up dishes like Classic Chicken Pot Pie and Catalonian Fire Roasted Lamb Rack. His fascination with food began decades ago when as a young kid he used to observe his mother cooking in the kitchen. His mother was a restaurant chef and young Wolfgang soon decided that he too wanted to be one, much to the chagrin of his father. His father did not approve of his career choice and for a while Puck tried his hand at working at a construction site in order to appease his father. But fate had other plans and soon he found himself working for a restaurant. For a few years he worked at various restaurants and honed his culinary skills. He moved to France from Austria and luckily got the opportunity to work in some of the greatest French restaurants. Eventually he moved to the United States where his career saw a phenomenal rise and over the years he became a very successful celebrity chef. He is also actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations.
- He was born as Wolfgang Johann Topfschnig in Austria on 8 July 1949 to a butcher father and a restaurant chef mother. His biological father left his mother shortly before Wolfgang was born, leaving her alone to raise the child.
- His mother Maria later married a coal-miner called Josef Puck who adopted Wolfgang and gave him his name. Maria gave birth to two girls and a boy, providing Wolfgang with three younger siblings.
- He became interested in cooking from a young age, observing his mother at work. He started cooking when he was a child and realized that he wanted to become a professional chef.
- His father, however, did not approve of his son’s career choice and wanted him to take up some other profession. Thus for a while Wolfgang worked at a construction site but left the job soon to focus on his culinary career.
- He did not attend any culinary school, but instead opted to train as an apprentice. His first experience as an apprentice at a hotel was anything but positive, but this did not discourage him and he moved to train at another hotel.
- He moved to France where he was able to work in some of the finest restaurants including Maxim's in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and the Michelin 3-starred L'Oustau de Baumanière in Provence. His experiences at these restaurants helped him develop his culinary skills greatly.
- He decided to move to the US to explore newer avenues. His first job in US was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975 before moving to Los Angeles. His career saw an upsurge and soon he found himself the part owner of Ma Maison in West Hollywood.
- Ma Maison was frequented by the rich and the famous and he made a name for himself as a sophisticated gourmet chef. His deep understanding of the Californian cuisine and his excellent culinary skills made the restaurant very popular.
- The success he received so far motivated him to start his own restaurant. In 1982, he opened his own restaurant Spago on the West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. The restaurant was a success from the very first day, and his innovative dishes like haute cuisine pizzas, Sonoma baby lamb, and Roast beef established him as a gourmet chef.
- Over the next few years he opened other restaurants including Chinois on Main in Santa Monica in 1983 and Postrio, in the Prescott Hotel off San Francisco's Union Square in 1989.
- Meanwhile Spago was becoming phenomenally popular and in 1997 he moved the restaurant to an elegant setting on Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills. He formed Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) in May 1998 which became the preferred catering service for several high profile events.
- He eventually founded the Wolfgang Puck Companies which includes the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. His company encompasses several fine dining restaurants and premium catering services, and also sells kitchen and food merchandise, including cookbooks and canned foods.
- In 2002, his Food Network television program ‘Wolfgang Puck’ received Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Service Show. The very next year, the program received Emmy for Best Direction for Service Show
- His restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills received a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Service Award in 2005. The Los Angeles Michelin Guide awarded the restaurant two Michelin stars in 2008 and 2009.
- He was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by James Beard Foundation in 2012.
- In 2013, Puck was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
- He married Marie France Trouillot in 1975, and the couple divorced in 1980.
- He married interior designer Barbara Lazaroff in 1983 after a much publicized romance. The couple had two children, and Barbara played a tremendous role in shaping his career. The couple collaborated with each other and opened a chain of restaurants which were very successful and established Wolfgang as a very popular chef. The marriage, however, came to an end in 2003 when he became involved in an affair with Gelila Assefa.
- He married his longtime girlfriend and mother of two of his sons, Gelila Assefa, in 2007.
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