If Wolfgang Puck was a soldier, he would have been a decorated hero. This world-renowned chef, restaurateur, author, and actor is an equivalent of a 5-star general in the culinary world.
Since he went into business for himself in 1982, he has built a massive three-pronged business enterprise called the Wolfgang Puck Companies. He has been on a plethora of television cooking shows and owns over 20 restaurants all over the United States.
Wolfgang Puck’s Bio
The infamous chef was born with a different last name – Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig – in Carinthia, Austria, on July 8, 1949. According to him, his earliest cooking inspiration and tutor was his mother. Subsequently, young Johannes went through some serious culinary training in his younger days. These days of teething took in apprenticeships in exotic locations like Monaco and Paris. After this period, he relocated to the United States at the age of 24 to pursue his dreams of being a chef. He started his career with two years at La Tour in Indianapolis, followed by some more time as co-owner and chef at Los Angeles’ Ma Maison restaurant.
His time at Los Angeles gave Puck the confidence to publish his first cookbook Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen inspired by his recipes at the restaurant. This book was released in 1981 and the next year, he started his first restaurant Spago located on the Sunset Strip. The immense success of this venture bolstered the food enthusiast to blow this into a full restaurant chain in the years that followed.
As at 2018, Wolfgang has four functioning Spago locations, including the inaugural restaurant which he relocated to Beverly Hills in 1997. In 2004, the Beverly Hills restaurant was heralded as one of the Top 40 restaurants in the USA and has remained on that list ever since.
Wolfgang Puck has restaurants and operations everywhere, from street corners and airports to hotels and beach fronts. His locations even include the Walt Disney World Resort, the magnificent Ritz-Carlton, and the grandiose MGM Grand Detroit.
In 1993, he had his first restaurant, Spago Hollywood inducted into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame. In 1994, the same restaurant bagged a James Beard Award as Restaurant of the Year.
All these successes gave Puck the resources he needed to launch a full-fledged company – The Wolfgang Puck Companies. The enterprise operated in three categories: The Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc., and Wolfgang Puck Catering. These divisions deal with the restaurants, licensed products and operations, and catering services respectively. Puck is also the official caterer for the Academy Awards Governors Ball.
Besides the hectic schedule of his business, Wolfgang has been able to carve out time for an acting career. He has made cameo appearances on television series and movies such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Weather Man, and The Smurfs. He also made a four-episode recurring role on Las Vegas. Being the contracted chef and caterer for the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, Puck also made an appearance on their family reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
He has also been a judge on many television food show competitions including Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, The Next Food Network Star, Top Chef: New York and Top Chef: Las Vegas. In October 2009, he appeared on The Jay Leno Show.
Wolfgang Puck has published more titles since his first in 1981. As of 2018, his last book Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy, came in 2004.
He also gives to charitable causes through his foundation Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation which was established in 1982. As of 2018, the foundation has been able to raise over $15 million for different philanthropic efforts.
Besides his restaurants, Wolfgang Puck has also received many awards and recognition for his contributions within and beyond the food industry. In 2013, he became a member of the Culinary Hall of Fame. In April 2017, Puck’s television endeavors earned him his very own shiny star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Later in the same year, he was named the 2017 Gold Plate Winner of the Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).
Family & Married Life: Wife, Divorce, Children
Puck is on his third marriage. He first tied the knot in 1975, at the age of 26. His first wife was a woman named Marie France Trouillot. The marriage lasted until 1980. He then met Barbara Lazaroff sometime later and they got married in 1983.
Even though the couple split in 2003, they are still every bit business partners as they were in the 80s. The Wolfgang Companies still lists Barbara as a co-founder and she still makes creative and design contributions to the restaurant side of the business.
As of 2018, Puck is married to Gelila Assefa. They got married in 2007. Wolfgang has four children, two each from Barbara and Gelila.