The Return of the Master Chef

by BTM

Tue, 06 April 2021

The Return of the Master Chef

It’s that time of year when the Michelin-starred, international celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck graces Bahrain’s shores. He made time to chat about business, culinary arts and current affairs exclusively to BTM’s Publishing Chairman, George Middleton.

Your company encompasses 26 fine dining locations and is listed amongst the top 40 restaurants in the United States. How important is training for you to ensure the standards maintained in your organisation?
We have a certain culture and I really believe people have to buy into the culture. People should want to work for us; if not, they shouldn’t be with us. We have so many people who have been with me for so many years, some for even 40 years; their whole working life. Our chef at Spago, for example, came to interview with me for a school project. Then when he was in high school, he started to work on the weekends. And then after high school, he started to work full-time and now he’s the chef at Spago and supervises three other restaurants. So, I think training is really an important part to get the right people; people with passion, who are excited to work with us. And then we can move them into our style.

What’s your take on fake meat?
I’m not really much into anything fake. I understand the environmental impact with greenhouse gases, but I think in America, for example, we should just cut down the portion size. We would need, maybe, half the number of cows running around. I think Americans also have to learn how to use all parts of the meat, not just the prime cuts like ribeye or New York steak. So, I think it will help if we become a little bit more self-conscious in how we utilise things, how we eat in smaller portions. Nobody really needs a 16-ounce steak, right? Eight ounces is good enough. Even that I like to share with my wife on our nights out. 

What is your personal favourite cuisine?
I love all kinds of food. As long as the quality is really good. That’s why I like to go to good restaurants because I know the quality of the ingredients will be really first class. It could be Japanese, Italian, French or any other food. It’s the experience of an evening out, not just the food, you know? 

Something people may not know about you is that you have also acted on screen. What was your most memorable experience behind the camera?
Oh, so many of them! I did this TV show about Las Vegas where I got really nervous, where I just needed to be myself. But I was most nervous shooting with Sharon Stone. I forgot my lines and all of a sudden, I blacked out, and I said it in German. And of course, they couldn’t understand what I was saying. And the director said, “No, no, you have to speak in English”. I have acted in Frasier as well. I like doing live TV for cooking shows, but I think I’ll leave the acting part to the actors. 

Who is a chef that you most admire and consider to be a master in culinary arts?
There are a lot of young people out there who are really interesting, but I judge somebody by longevity. Some chefs turn popular overnight, but soon they’re just gone. There are few who were really successful 30 or 40 years ago, and are still successful today, and that is really important to me.