Wolfgang Puck Brings Restaurant, Reputation to Palm Desert
by Vernell Hackett
Wolfgang Puck, known for his innovative restaurants and his charitable outreach, has opened Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar in Palm Desert, Calif. The award-winning Chef marks his 22nd restaurant with this opening, adding it to establishments spanning the world in cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Singapore, Dallas, Atlantic City, London and Washington, D.C.
Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar is Puck’s newest casual concept. The first location was in Charlotte, NC in May 2012, followed by a second location in Greensboro, NC. The new restaurant in Palm Desert follows its predecessors, featuring a new and distinctive Italian-influenced menu with Wolfgang’s unique twist. While the menu centers around 17 of Wolfgang’s thin and crispy pizzas, it also offers soups, salads, appetizers, pastas, and grilled items.
Puck’s first restaurant, Spago, opened in 1982 on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, introducing the Chef’s innovative ways of combining California cuisine and Asian dishes using French culinary techniques. It also set the standard for service and hospitality for its customers.
The restaurant was ranked as one of the original ‘see and be seen’ places where celebrities regularly held court. Spago is now located at North Canon Drive in Beverly Hills and continues to be the major restaurant to copy. In celebration of its 30 year anniversary, Puck added a 30,000 bottle wine collection to the restaurant as well as serving food in smaller plates, a reflection of the way he feels people dine today.
While Puck’s reputation as a Chef was spreading world-wide, his involvement with many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations was also gaining attention. Puck lends his support to a variety of charities, everything from the senior meals program, Meals on Wheels, to his own WELL and Seafood Savvy.
Central to all of Wolfgang Puck’s endeavors is his Wolfgang’s Eat, Love, Live ™ (WELL) philosophy, which is a commitment to provide food made with only the freshest and most natural and organic ingredients available. Puck encourages the use and consumption of locally produced products and produce, sustainable seafood and humanely treated animals.
Puck supports the Alzheimer’s Foundation, Cleveland Clinic at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which helps raise money for research to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s. Puck is a regular participant in the foundation’s annual fund raising events. He also supports the UH Seidman Cancer Center in Northern Ohio, a part of University Hospitals, where he is co-chair of Five Star Sensation, a semi-annual major fundraiser.
Puck is involved in other cancer initiatives including the American Cancer Society California Spirit, where he co-hosts the annual Spirit event, and the Nevada Cancer Institute.
The chef also participates in the bi-annual Carousel of Hope Ball to help support the Children’s Diabetes Foundation. He also takes part in the annual Race to Erase MS, sponsored by the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.
Wolfgang is also actively involved in The Animal Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Gateway Green, Lance Armstrong Organization, the Special Olympics, the Cystic Fibrosis Society, and the Fire and Ice Ball for Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program.
As a child, Puck was drawn to culinary arts through his mother, who was a chef in the Austrian town of St. Veit. She encouraged him and he began his formal training at 14. In 1969 he began working at at L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, France, and in 1972 moved to Maxim’s in Paris.
The following year, at 24, he moved to the U.S. to work as Chef at La Tour in Indianapolis. Three years later he moved to Los Angeles and Ma Maison. He published his first cookbook, “Modern French Cooking,” based on his popular recipes at Ma Maison, in 1981.
The following year he opened Spago on the Sunset Strip. Puck is credited for seeing the potential of California cuisine and was pivotal in its rise to national attention during the late 1970s. Puck holds the distinction of being the only chef to win the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year twice, in 1991 and 1998. The restaurant was honored with the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant of the Year in 1994.
With the success of Spago, Puck opened Chinois on Main in Santa Monica in 1983. 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. The menu at Chinois on Main laid the groundwork for fusion cooking in America.
Puck expanded his reach in 1992 when he opened Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas. He was the first star chef to create a contemporary fine dining restaurant there, paving the way for other celebrated chefs and the city’s move toward a dining destination.
Puck has served 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. The catering division is also responsible for operating venues in major markets including Sony Pictures Studios, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, University of Chicago Gleacher Center, The Sunset Room at National Harbor, Md., and the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. is a privately held corporation that includes company-owned and franchised locations of restaurants, consumer products, book publishing, and other licensing and merchandising projects. Puck’s consumer products include a wide range of foods, among them All-Natural Frozen Pizzas and Appetizers, All-Natural and Organic soups, Estate Grown Organic Coffees and refrigerated entrees. Other restaurants include Wolfgang Puck Bistro, a contemporary casual restaurant, and Wolfgang Puck Express, a chain of fast-casual restaurants.
Puck has written six cookbooks and has been a regular guest on ABC’s “Good Morning America” since 1986. Puck also has made guest appearances on a multitude of television shows and his syndicated newspaper column, “Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen,” reaches more than 5.3 million people each week in the U.S. and Canada. The chef demonstrates recipes using his line of Wolfgang Puck branded housewares on Home Shopping Network.
Puck has received numerous awards for his contributions including last year’s Chef of the Year award from British GQ “Men of the Year” awards. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation and the Pioneer of American Cuisine from the Culinary Institute of America.
Puck lives in Los Angeles, with his wife, Gelila, and has four sons, Cameron, Byron, Oliver, and Alexander.
WOLFGANG GIVES BACK
Wolfgang Puck and his partners actively support a number of worthy cultural and charitable endeavors. Giving back to causes in communities that have contributed to the success of his companies over the years is a privilege and an honor Wolfgang embraces. You can help, too.
Make a Difference – Join Wolfgang Puck and the Wolfgang Puck Companies in supporting these worthy causes. Click on an organization’s name to learn more.
Meals On Wheels helps people find local senior meal programs, helps local meal programs recruit volunteers and helps businesses develop corporate sponsorship and volunteer programs for senior meal programs. The Los Angeles Chapters will serve over 1.5 million meals this year to the elderly, disabled and homebound members of our community.
WELL (Wolfgang’s Eat, Love, Live)™ program encourages the use and consumption of locally produced products and produce, sustainable seafood and humanely treated animals, with an emphasis on fresh, all-natural and organically grown foods. Seafood Savvy is a complementary initiative created to educate the public about sustainability issues and encourage them to make environmentally responsible decisions when choosing fish and seafood.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) unites people through programs and experiences that empower cancer survivors to live life on their own terms. LAF is committed to raising awareness and helping to fund the fight against cancer.
Cleveland Clinic at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health works to raise research dollars to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Since its founding in 1996, the foundation has raised $50 million toward building of the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Wolfgang participates in the foundation’s annual fundraising events.
The Animal Foundation is a private, non-profit, multi-service agency dedicated to making a difference in the lives of animals in the Las Vegas Valley.
UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the University Hospitals of is one of only 39 U.S. Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. Ireland offers cutting-edge treatments earlier than most other cancer centers. www.uhhospitals.org/seidman
University Hospitals (UH) is a community-based health care system which serves patients at more than 150 locations throughout Northern Ohio. UH encompasses the region’s largest network of primary care physicians, outpatient centers and hospitals. The network also offers specialty care physicians to treat almost every disease and condition, skilled nursing, elder health, rehabilitation and home care services, and occupational health and wellness. Wolfgang is co-chair of Five Star Sensation, semi-annual major fundraiser for University Hospitals.
The Children’s Diabetes Foundation raises funds to support programs at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver, Colorado, which serves children and young adults from all over America. Wolfgang participates in the bi-annual Carousel of Hope Ball, which has raised millions of dollars for the foundation’s treatment and research programs.
The Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure for MS. Wolfgang participates in the annual Race to Erase MS, which provides funding for The Nancy Davis Center Without Walls program, a selected network of the nation’s top seven MS research centers.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Wolfgang is co-host for the annual California Spirit event, a major fundraiser which benefits the ACS.
Nevada Cancer Institute is committed to bringing innovative cancer therapy options that benefit cancer patients in Nevada and beyond.
Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening