Culinary Arts

Wolfgang's Journey

Wolfgang Puck

Lesson time 17:48 min

Discover how Wolfgang worked his way up from an Austrian hotel kitchen to open his own Michelin-rated restaurants. Learn how hard work, risk-taking, and innovation influenced his journey.

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Wolfgang Puck
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In 16 lessons, learn exclusive recipes and cooking techniques from the chef behind Spago and CUT.
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Well, I was born in Austria, in a small little town called Sankt Veit. But my parents didn't live in town, they lived about five miles out of town. It wasn't even a village. It was like two farmers and five houses. I remember we had no television. We didn't have no telephone in our house. But the food was always pretty good. My mother was a really good cook, and my grandmother was a really good cook, so they could do a lot of things with very little. When I was 14, I had to decide what to do with my life afterward. Should I go to school? I wanted to become an architect. The only school was in Vienna at that time. And I said, you know, my parents don't have the money to send me to Vienna. So then my mother called the lady who ran the hotel where she worked, and says, what should I do with my son? And then she said, OK, my friend who I went to school with runs this hotel in Villach, which is a little town 50 miles away from my house. My stepfather wanted me to become a mason, or a carpenter, or mechanic, any of what he said manly profession. He was a coal miner, so for him, cooking was a woman at home. Before I left I said, I'm going to start cooking. He said, oh you're good for nothing, you will be home in another week or two. So he was not a nice guy. I actually call him a terrorist, so he's terrible. He was terrible to my mother. He was terrible to me. He used to beat me up when I did something wrong. So that's why when I found a job like, 50 miles away, I said, it's perfect, I can leave the house. So they packed me my little suitcase and took me there. And on the way my stepfather didn't say goodbye. He said, you are good for nothing, you will be back in two weeks. And I said no. So then I go to this hotel, started in the kitchen peeling potatoes, onions, carrots, washing salads, and washing spinach, and cleaning the oven, and cleaning the floor. They didn't have kitchen helper whatsoever, so the apprentices had to do that. And I was the last one in, I had to do the worst job. One day on a Sunday we ran out of potato puree. We ran out of mashed potatoes. We ran out of potatoes in all. And all of a sudden, it was all my fault. Meanwhile, there were 20 young people in the kitchen. So the chef told me, oh, you're good for nothing, go back to your mother, she can breastfeed you for another year so you grow up a little bit. And I just looked at him. At the end of the service, he says OK, you can go home. And I said, oh my god, now my stepfather is right. I have to go back home. And I said, no way, I'm not going home. Then at night, I go over the bridge. There was a big river going through the city. I had my jacket on, it was cold, it was in the beginning of winter. And I said, I'm going to kill myself, I'm going to jump into the river. So I was standing on the brid...


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.



Reviews

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

I am an experienced home cook who loves to cook, bake and entertain. Wolfgang's masterclass was fun to watch and inspirational. He reminds you to rely on tasting everything, not just to follow a recipe. He inspired me to be even more creative. I would love to see more from him!! Great class!

Thoroughly enjoyable. He makes it look so easy and it was tempting to take the time to cook the way he does.

I learned many new techniques, and also interesting twists on classic recipes.

As with my previous master class experience with Gordon Rumsey, I will do the same here, go through the lessons again and try to follow slowly each lesson and workbook.


Comments

John D.

This was a really wonderful master class. I walked away with several recipes I am excited to cook. Cocktails too. Mr. Puck's journey is inspirational. I am so glad he didn't jump off the bridge that day. It got me to thinking about how many people did jump and are not here today to inspire and make their mark on the world. The world is worse off because of it. Mr. Puck has been truly a pioneer. I've been to Spago in Beverly Hills a few times and spent my 40th birthday there, which was a special night. It's always been wonderful food, and great and friendly service.

A fellow student

Where can I buy the materials for cocktails- vermouth,campari,peach puree & simple syrup in USA ?Any particular store that sells it ?

Susan A.

This lesson above all is about life and taking risks, but above all is about knowing what YOU want to do and what you do NOT want to do. Very informative and interesting discussion, for sure.

Jayden N.

I live in Singapore, and CUT is the best steakhouse here! I have tried all famous steakhouse and this is the best.. Amazing and inspiring journey! I would love to meet you one day.

Angela K.

You deserve all the success you have. I am glad you didn’t jump 💛. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to enjoy your delicious food. I had the privilege to go to Spago several years ago and I ate one of the best steaks I ever ate in my life. My Father in-law used to sell you fish.

A fellow student

This lesson flew by so quickly. WP is not just a good cook but an excellent communicator.

Christine A.

Love his determination! I have to keep trying until I can make things right.

Glenn J.

wow... what a ride. Work ethic is the key to success no matter the industry. Glad you didn't jump off that bridge as well!

enkete

Chapeau for his way!! I admire the positive, simple and natural way he talks about everything. It seems to me that Wolfgang made the best out of every situation he had to go through....Once again : resilience, passion and quality are a fantastic life recipe!

A fellow student

I've always been an admirer, but never have I had so much respect for a chef as I do at this moment. My father (recently deceased) was born in Lithuania, brew up in the slums of the Bronx, and excelled to great heights in his career. It seems sometimes those facing the most adversity develop the deepest hearts and soul. I salute you, Wolfgang. What a splendid journey for a youngster facing such odds.