Wolfgang Puck's 25th Oscar Party

Master chef Wolfgang Puck reflects upon his legendary career.

Posted: Feb 22, 2019 6:20 PM
Updated: Feb 22, 2019 6:20 PM

Just in time for his 25th Governors Ball, the glitzy Academy Awards after-party on February 24, CNN Travel caught up with Wolfgang Puck to look back at his illustrious career and his ever-expanding empire, at his steak house CUT by Wolfgang Puck (his only New York City restaurant), at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown.

The hotel just received its second Forbes Five-Star rating, making it the only Five-Star hotel in Lower Manhattan.

Growing up in Austria, little Wolfgang Puck started cooking very early. First with his mother, then as an apprentice at a local hotel kitchen, and later at Maxim's in Paris. After a few more high-profile European restaurant stints, Puck decided to move to America. He was only 24.

He opened Spago in 1982 (first on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, then moved it to Beverly Hills in 1997) and was the one of the first chef/owners to coin the term "California Cuisine," which, according to Puck, means that you "use the best ingredients, use them in a simple way so the ingredients really shine."

Before the 1980s, no restaurant in the US was serving goat cheese, let alone putting it on a pizza. Puck popularized this kind of ingredient-forward dining, introducing a whole new culinary vernacular to menus across America.

Global empire

In the intervening years, he has amassed an empire of signature restaurants all over the world: Spago restaurants in Las Vegas, Hawaii, Istanbul and Singapore, his steakhouse CUT in Beverly Hills and New York (both housed in Four Seasons hotels) and two others in London and Dubai. And so many more restaurants, along with his signature kitchen products, his myriad television appearances, columns, cookbooks, hotel partnerships and Wolfgang Puck Catering.

This year marks his 25th overseeing the menu at the Academy Awards' gala, the Governors Ball. Wolfgang Puck Catering runs venues in 50 locations around the world, including sports arenas, museums and airports.

But this decadent Hollywood celebration, with 1,500 guests, is definitely its most marquee event. This year's menu features Scallop Ceviche and a vegan Opal Apple Summer Roll, alongside many Puck classics like Nashville Hot Fried Quail and Black Truffle Chicken Pot Pie.

Back at CUT in the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, the chef is almost out of his chair with excitement to get our crew into the kitchen to meet his team of diverse young cooks, and so we could watch him prepare an other-worldly 40-ounce Tomahawk chop from Creekstone Farms. Puck's passion for cooking, teaching, innovation and his global team of chefs are palpable.

After Puck prepared the steak, he worked with pastry chef Zairah Molina (who is married to executive chef Raymond Weber), artfully preparing a Yuzu Key Lime pie with Toasted Brown Sugar Meringue and Graham Cracker.

Affinity for art

CUT was designed by famed French interior designer Jacques Garcia, and he grinned with pride as he pointed out the priceless works of art on the walls, curated by his Ethiopian-born wife, Gelila Assefa Puck. For the main dining room, Assefa Puck commissioned a diptych by Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, called "The Chef," as well as pieces from Julie Mehretu and one of Tracey Emin's handwritten neons.

The Pucks' affinity for art and architecture will next be on display on Los Angeles's Pacific Coast Highway. They've teamed up with Frank Gehry to create and design a seafood restaurant which will replace Gladstone's that has operated on the site for over 50 years, perched on a cliff above the Pacific.

The timeline for the Puck-Gehry project isn't finalized -- it was just approved last April -- but one thing is for sure, Wolfgang Puck is not anywhere near done.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
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Jones13851242
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Holmes267987
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Perry205556
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Carroll169138
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Benton148838
Kemper141941
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Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
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Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
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Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
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Washington251551
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Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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