Before he was a household name and celebrity chef with a global restaurant empire and product sales worth $400M annually, Austrian-born chef Wolfgang Puck was cooking at Los Angeles’ now-defunct Ma Maison, in the 1980s. The gregarious chef soon became a phenomenon, opening the original Spago on Sunset in that same decade and changing the way the world looked at California cuisine and gourmet pizza. Puck was catapulted into international stardom with his A-list Oscar parties, which he is still hosting some 25 years later, as a fixture at the post-awards Governor’s Ball, feeding more than 1,500 entertainment industry VIPs.
When not overseeing Spago (they still serve the iconic smoked salmon pizza), or his other Los Angeles restaurants, CUT (still the spot for prime Wagyu beef), his eponymous restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air (always a favorite for a romantic evening in the hills), Chinois (the best Chinese chicken salad in town), and WP24 (ideal for family-style meals), the tireless chef is in New York keeping up with the team at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, where he recently opened an outpost of CUT.
In spring 2020, Puck is joining forces with the chic Pendry on Sunset, offering guests a mix of new and classic dishes in several eateries and in-room dining.
Breakfast at the Bel-Air Hotel
For breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air, I love tapas—the soft scrambled eggs, one pancake, and one chicken sausage.
It’s All about Lunch in LA
When I go to Spago for lunch, I ask my executive chef, Chef Tetsu, to create a special four- to five-course lunch menu for me. Chef Tetsu always surprises me with great ingredients like the live Santa Monica prawns, which he barely cooks, or even a quail from Sacramento. All our ingredients are from California. My pastry chef, Chef Della, is ready to surprise me with a great dessert, something light and seasonal.
At the Bel-Air, during lunchtime, I enjoy sitting outside at the restaurant. I generally have a vegetable risotto and whole-grilled branzino.
Night on the Town
Dinner at Spago can go two ways: Sometimes I feel in the mood for a whole schnitzel, especially during truffle season. Our schnitzel is made with a sunny-side egg and fresh white truffle shaved on top. It’s very simple and very delicious. We also have the California Tasting Menu, which is an 8- to 10-course meal with various dishes and comes with a wine pairing.
I happen to love dining family style at CUT, so when I go with my family, we order a whole grilled turbot with spicy tomato vinaigrette for the first course. Our chef-de-cuisine, Chef Hilary, cooks the perfect steak for me so for the second course we will have a double, bone-in New York strip and the poussin, which is a baby chicken, with white mushrooms.
At the Hotel Bel-Air, our executive chef, Chef Hugo, makes an amazing whole duck that is prepared very similar to a Peking duck but has a lot of spices and a lot more flavor.
Chinese is all about sharing, so whatever our executive chef, Chef John, creates at WP24, he always creates a crowd pleaser. Typically, it’s lobster with sweet ginger and scallions, but his dumplings are absolutely amazing.
Chinois is all about tradition, and it is the first restaurant where we started the family-style sharing meals. I usually get the crispy calamari salad, sweet cured oysters with salmon pearls, and tempura sashimi. They are my three favorite appetizers that I always order. For the main course, I love getting the Shanghai lobster risotto and the lamb chops with mint cilantro vinaigrette. I always end the night with a big assortment of desserts.
Dining with Out-of-Town Guests
Nobu Matsuhisa is one of my dear friends, and Matsuhisa was his first restaurant. It is still one of the best places to eat fresh sushi. Nobu has always supported us, and I will always support him. Look no further than Providence if you want good seafood in Los Angeles. It’s a classic place, and I love taking out-of-town guests there. The dishes and service are executed to perfection. Otium is new, innovative, and always keeps guests on their toes. They know how to provide a unique food experience, and it’s different. I also enjoy Majordomo by David Chang. While Angelini has been around for 30 years, it is a classic L.A. restaurant. Angelini is the best Italian you can get in L.A. and has a very homey, European feel, which I enjoy.
Vespertine is a restaurant that I have never tried, and I would like to go and experience it. Angler is another restaurant that everyone is talking about. I’m eager to try their seafood.
Breakfast in the Big Apple
When I’m in New York at CUT for breakfast, I always order a house-smoked salmon, cut thinly with a toasted bagel, cream cheese, and capers. I also always drink their green vegetable juice in the morning.
Group or Solo Lunch
CUT is a steakhouse, so if I’m with a group of people I will order a porterhouse to share, along with some seasonal vegetables. Often, I have lunch by myself, so I love steamed black bass with ginger scallion and chili sauce.
Dinner at CUT is always a treat in New York. Our executive chef, Chef Ben, makes a great tomahawk steak for me. I like it medium rare with truffles. I also enjoy the whole roast turbot for the table. I end my night with my go-to dessert, the Kaiserschmarrn [an Austrian shredded pancake].
I love going to Daniel and siting at the bar with some Veuve champagne and appetizers. I go there every time I am in New York. Eleven Madison Park is such a unique experience that I enjoy. The food is good, and it’s great for a special occasion. Masa has the best sushi in the city. The restaurant is so elegant, and the chefs pay so much attention to detail.