Food, Home & Lifestyle
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.
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars
Topics include: Overcoming Adversity • Learning From French Masters • Building a Career in Los Angeles • Creating Spago • Paving a new Culinary Path • Managing Success
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...
About the Instructor
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.
Featured Masterclass Instructor
In 16 lessons, learn exclusive recipes and cooking techniques from the chef behind Spago and CUT.Explore the Class