Culinary Arts

Wolfgang's Business Philosophy

Wolfgang Puck

Lesson time 15:42 min

Wolfgang shares the insight he's gained from years building a global brand. Analyzing his triumphs and failures, Wolfgang teaches the importance of risk-taking, innovation, and evolution.

Wolfgang Puck
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Before I opened Spago in Las Vegas, there was no really good restaurant, well-known restaurant in Las Vegas. When we opened there, it was a risk. But part of my life is taking risks. If you want to be successful without taking any risk, it might be very difficult. I remember already as a kid I did ski jumping. And I said, I want to jump the farthest. So I took off as fast as I can, went down as low as possible, and stood up and tried to fly, and then landed and crashed, and wiped out totally. So I said, I didn't win because I wiped out, but I sure jumped farther than any other kid, you know? And so even as a young kid, I always took the risk. When leaving my home, maybe it would have been more safe staying at home, even with my stepfather being such a terrorist. It would still have been safer, in a way, then going 50 miles away to a new place. So now, in business, I have the same philosophy. So I took the risk. Go to Las Vegas, open a restaurant. And you know what? At the first few weeks, I thought it was the biggest mistake I ever made. We opened in beginning December, where every show was closed, and I knew Siegfried and Roy, you know, they are from Germany, they didn't perform. And the restaurant was empty. I had nine waiter station in the restaurant, and maybe we did 40 dinners. So for each waiter, we had one table. And then we got this great write-up in the Las Vegas paper. And after that came out, we had 60 or 70 guests. So that was in the summer. I said, oh my god, that's the biggest nightmare for me. I knew maybe this time I went too far. There's no customer who want to come to our restaurant in Vegas. They have all the big buffets. They're all-you-can-eat stuff and so forth. And I remember I used to go home at night, sit on the couch-- I rented an apartment not far from the restaurant-- sit on the couch with a bottle of red wine, drunk the whole bottle, and fell asleep in front of the television, waking up at six in the morning like all crooked and say, oh my god, now I have to go back there again. Three weeks later was New Year's. It got busy. And now, it's busy ever since. For 20 years, the restaurant is packed. Now you have more restaurants in Las Vegas from famous chefs than in any other city, I think. But we were there first. [MUSIC PLAYING] Well to me, if you would ask me who do I want today, a chef who is really creative or a chef who just execute, obviously to me creative is the most important thing. And I actually talked to Joe Roth the other day, who used to run the Disney studio and everything. And I said, how you run your studios? What do you have to do to be successful? And he said, you know, it's about creative, about having creative people in charge. You always can find somebody to run the studio, to do the financial, to do the business work. But if you're not c...

Become fearless in the kitchen

Legend has it Wolfgang Puck came up with his famous smoked salmon pizza when his restaurant ran out of bagels—and ended up changing the way America cooks. In his MasterClass, the five-time James Beard Award-winning chef behind more than 100 restaurants brings you into his kitchen. You’ll learn not only how to master starters, mains, sides, and cocktails, but also how to take risks to create memorable recipes of your own.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I totally enjoyed Wolfgang's course, it just concerned me to see him touching raw meat and chicken and then putting his hands in the salt and pepper without cleaning his hands first. Also, using the same spoon multiple times to taste a dish.

Great information, really nice to hear about the personal side of how it all got started. Very inspiring and really fun to experience.

Very informative. I am already using some of the ideas.

I like how he encourages the students to train the pallet to help you cook better dishes.



Chef Wolfgang you are amazing, thank you for all the experience that you share with us. Currently I'm about to open my first pizzeria, and I was having conflict thinking about the menu, expenses, reveneu, people, quality, etc, but now I feel more confident about taking the right decisions from the start, thank you!!

Kris S.

Wow! Danke Wolfgang! Was für eine offene, inspirierende Sicht auf die Dinge! Sehr bereichernd <3

Rita L.

Chef Wolfgang your course is very interesting, especially the Oatmeal Risotto, Seafood gazpacho cold soup & Roasted Branzino will definitely try these dishes. Thank you for sharing your cooking experience and your culinary philosophy with us. Amazing Chef!

Bete I.

Perfect masterclass! I am not a cook, I am a composer but interested in new things. This was very nice spend time! Wolfgang you a perfect person, perfect chef! You have so emotions!!! Your joyful energy make me to try to cook some of your recipes. Thank you a looot! Bete Ilin


That reminds me. I should try making my own frozen pizzas at home for myself. I watched a YouTube tutorial about making pizza by Laura Vitale. She indicated that her father ran a pizza business! Her tips included using a pizza stone and one of those long handled boards to place the pizza in the hot oven. Goodbye pizzeria.

Leslie C.

I thought very highly of this session. Enchanting. Invigorating. Down to earth. Plus just a nice guy who wants to be remembered for bring a good father. Talent plus the right amount of risk-taking can certainly pay off!


I have watched you demonstrate how to use a rice cooker on HSN and you told an interesting story about your son making mac and cheese to bring to school for lunch. Such a great meal solution!

Wendy R.

I went over to Trip Saavy and read about pizzas, but came across this, that said Wolfgang did not create the smoked salmon and duck sausage pizzas. One of his chefs did. While Wolfgang did not say he created those pizzas, he left the impression that he did. Wondering which story is truthful: "California style pizza uses a dough base similar to the Neapolitan or New York style pizza and jazzes up the base with unusual and uncommon ingredients. This style of pizza is generally credited to Chef Ed LaDou who developed a pizza with ricotta, red peppers, mustard, and pate, that Chef Wolfgang Puck tried and loved in the early 1980s. Chef Puck immediately hired Chef LaDou to work at the newly opened Spago in 1982 and Chef LaDou continued creating innovative pizzas, including varieties with duck sausage and smoked salmon. "In 1985, Chef LaDou created the first pizza menu for California Pizza Kitchen, "

Linda K.

My mother and I met Wolfgang at the redesign of his Venetian casino restaurant Postrio. Somehow he knew to stop at our table and he placed his hands on our booth and looked at my mom. She was so excited she tossed her hands about and spilled her glass of champagne and it leaked toward her purse. He said, "madame, you do not have to take the Champagne in your purse, I'll give you a bottle to take home." Then I asked mom to tell Wolfgang about how he visited his mother and she made vegetable soup from the vegetables in her garden. He said, " my mother made the best vegetable soup!" My mother has since passed but I still tell this story. Thank you for creating such a wonderful memory for mom and me.

Peggy C.

Loved loved hearing how you kept going even when the odds were against you! It’s empowering to know to keep going and to totally believe and love what you are doing! Thank you Chef Wolfgang! YOU are a remarkable gem! A true inspiration!