Thanks to Disney+ and their valuable insight to storytelling, their regular viewership is now privy to an invitation from filmmaker David Gelb to engage in his latest documentary Wolfgang. Gelb directs and produces a personal narrative about the infamous Chef, Wolfgang Puck, and his recipe for success. Puck's reputation as "Chef to the stars" has gone beyond those accolades and is also known to the common man, especially his fabulous pizza recipe one can enjoy in airports around the world. In addition, we know of his one hundred restaurants, his passion to serve food from fresh ingredients, his larger-than-life personality, his love to interact with his customers, and now we see his frozen food section in American grocery stores.
Puck, who turns 72-years-old this summer, allows Gelb trace his restaurateur journey. An Austrian-born chef, Puck could never imagine becoming a celebrity Chef, after being fired from his first kitchen job as a teenager. A victim of an abusive stepfather, Puck's life choices with a low self-esteem played a role in his passion for the culinary arts. Puck's mother was a fabulous cook from whom he gleaned from her expertise, wondering many times how she mastered her talent using a typical Austrian wood-burning stove with no temperature gauge.
Puck admits his success is due to the help, insight, and encouragement of those who joined him on his culinary journey. Puck gives honor where honor is due. It was Raymond Thuilier, founder of Michelin's two-star restaurant L'Oustau de Baumaniere in Provence, who noticed Puck's talent and encouraged him to venture beyond what he knew.
Puck makes his way to California and there he finds a new family, friends and colleagues that play an intricate part of his culinary legacy. Gelb interviews these special people and each share personal insights of their journey with Puck. They say that his reputation gained momentum when he only served food that was made from fresh ingredients and the time he took to interact with his customers every day. In addition, Puck was instrumental in changing a vital aspect of the restaurant business. In the past, restaurants were run by managers/owners, who told the chef what to do. Puck modeled to the culinary community that the restaurant would be more successful if the chefs decided, contrary to the owners, what they will do. Today, many restaurants are now owned by chefs.
Puck's delightful personality and his love for entertaining resides, but his biggest regret is that he did not spend more time with his older children. He recognizes, that in the process of building a successful business, his family relationships suffered. He cannot bring those days back but over the years he has learned from his mistakes and strives daily to be a better husband and father. When asked how he'd like to be remembered, he notes that it would please him if it is said that he put his family first; or, that his kids would say he's a great dad; or, that Gelila would acknowledge him as a good husband. He says, "That would be enough for me." But, they could add, "He also ran a few good restaurants."