Wolfgang Puck says pizza is his go-to food for celebrations — but hold the red sauce
The 73-year-old chef says he loves pizza with 'great ingredients,' but red sauce is not one of them.
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Wolfgang Puck has been a pillar of the culinary world for decades. With restaurants around the world, foodies can find some of Puck's most well-known dishes almost anywhere they may be traveling.
But what are some of Puck's most-loved dishes? If the 73-year-old chef is in the mood to celebrate, it's pizza he craves. "A smoked salmon pizza with caviar and a glass of champagne? There's nothing better than that," he says. "I love the pursuit of pizza. I like things with great ingredients, [but] I don't like pizza with tomato sauce."
Another one of Puck's favorite dishes is wiener schnitzel, made with veal cutlets. "[I bread it] with flour, egg and bread crumbs, then fry it very shortly and serve with lemon, salad and some lingonberries," he explains.
When it comes to guilty pleasures, Puck says chocolate is his go-to. "Really good chocolate [and] it has to be at least 75% cocoa," he explains. He also says the traditional Austrian dessert, kaiserschmarrn, is one of his favorite sweet treats. "[It's] a traditional very fluffy pancake," he says, "served with a strawberry compote."
As a celebrated chef, Puck has a few tips for home cooks. The one ingredient he thinks everyone should have in their kitchen is salt. "You know, it's a very simple thing," he says. "You're always going to need salt and pepper to season the food."
Puck also suggests changing your spices with the seasons to make your food better. "I use different spices at different times of the year," he explains. "In fall, for example, I might make a butternut squash soup and have a little cinnamon [or] maybe a little touch of nutmeg. Then comes spring, and I love fresh basil and rosemary."
He also wants home chefs to know it's OK if a new-to-them dish doesn't come out right the first time. "The most important thing is don't get frustrated when you don't [make a dish] as well the first time," says Puck. "It takes time to do it right and to get better."
Puck spoke with Yahoo Life while promoting his restaurant, Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in Orlando, Fla., the atmosphere of which takes inspiration from modern barns and farms. "It's light and airy, with an open kitchen, and [we] use the best ingredients from Florida," Puck says of the restaurant, which opened at Walt Disney World Resort's Disney Springs dining and retail district in 2018.
Shining a light on local fish and produce is a staple at the restaurant. "We get great groupers, some amazing red snappers and really delicious stone crabs," he explains. "There are some farmers in the northern part of the state [that we work with] and we try to get as much as possible from around here."
At home, Puck enjoys cooking with simple ingredients he's found at the local farmer's market. "My favorite thing is when I go to the farmer's market on Sunday morning, pick all the best vegetables or fruits, and then cook them at home," he says. "I simply grill them with olive oil, fresh chopped basil and good sea salt, [then] maybe crumble a little goat cheese on top and that will be all. I don't even need my grilled chicken."
With so many restaurants and accolades, Puck has been able to dine around the world. But what's the best meal he's eaten in his life? "I haven't eaten it yet," he says. "I'm still looking forward to it."
Trying new cuisines and experiencing new food is one of Puck's greatest joys, especially because there's so much to explore. "Variety is the spice of life, so for me, the great thing about the United States, especially where I live in Los Angeles, [is] we have so many ethnic parts of town," he says. "You find all these really amazing small family restaurants."
One person Puck still looks up to in the culinary world is Raymond Thuilier of L'Oustau de Baumanière. "He changed my life," says Puck. "For me, he's the high priest of cooking."
"Before [working for him], I didn't know if I was going to stay in cooking," he adds. "I was 19 years old when I got there, and he really believed in me and saw something in me. It changed my life. I have to be thankful to him for the rest of my life. Even [though] he's gone, he was so passionate."
For Puck, food is a gateway for showing love and appreciation to people. In his restaurants, he can often be seen greeting guests, famous or not, and asking people if they are enjoying their meal. "I tell everybody food is love," he says. "Food is family and friends."
"Whenever we celebrate good things or we celebrate bad things, there's always food involved in life," he continues. "That's why I love to sit down and eat with family and friends."
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