My Day on a Plate: Wolfgang Puck

Spending a day with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is like taking a walk down a gastronomic red carpet. Everything the Los Angeles–based, James Beard Award winner cooks, eats, and serves—whether at home, his hotspot Spago, or private dinners for famous friends like Sidney Poitier—might as well be tinged with tinsel.
wolfgang puck

Yesterday was a special day for me. First of all, I just came back from Miami, so I had breakfast with my kids. For me the most important thing in the morning is I have my cappuccino. I don’t pick it up anywhere. I make it myself. It’s not even a question. Over the last year I actually developed an espresso machine to make it really right because I had so many problems, even with the expensive ones. And so now we have this small one and we have the capsules for the coffee. The capsules are made in Italy so every espresso I make is always exactly the same.

I have two small sons, Oliver and Alexander. One is four and one is two and a half. They come into our bedroom in the morning and say, “Papa, let’s make pancakes.” So I make pancakes and oatmeal for the kids. The little one prefers oatmeal most of the time and Oliver, the older one, eats pancakes. Generally, I go to the farmer’s market with them on Sundays and we buy strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. I like raspberries and blueberries—or the wild strawberries, if they have them—with some milk in the morning. Once in a while, I steal a pancake without thinking. But the most important thing is my espressos. I have four of them.

I promised my boys I would pick them up from school because I didn’t see them for a week. We went downtown to our bistro. I had a roasted chicken. Every half hour we put three chickens up on the rotisserie and when it comes up fresh it’s really a very, very good chicken. I just eat it like that with some Dijon mustard. The kids ate two bowls of macaroni. They eat very well—everything! Even the little one loves fruit, loves vegetables. But they like the macaroni from our bistro downtown more than at Spago or anywhere. They eat it just plain with a bit of cheese on it. Maybe they put more cheese on it downtown or different cheese. I don’t know. With kids, you never know what goes into their heads. Last year in October, when white truffles came in season, I go to Spago to celebrate with Oliver for lunch. I said, “Okay, I’m going to have the white truffle pizza and a glass of wine.” He smelled the white truffles and ate all the white truffles off my pizza. From then on, every time we went to Spago, he told the waiter, “I want a white truffle pizza.” And finally, by the end of December, they were not in season anymore, so we had black truffles, and he said, “Oh, it’s okay, black truffles, too.” I don’t give him any caviar—otherwise he’s going to be too expensive to take out.

After lunch, I dropped the boys off at home and then I went to Spago. Naturally, when I am in the restaurant I walk around and I taste everything—but a lot of sweets always. Ice cream, sorbets, cookies. And if they have staff food—like yesterday they had chicken mole for the employees—I eat that, too. I went to taste it three or four times. I like spicy foods.

Then I went for a walk with my dogs (a golden retriever and a chocolate lab) up the hill because I ate already all afternoon and I knew I was going to have to sit down, at least part of the time, for a dinner we were giving for Sidney Poitier, who is the godfather of our children. He got the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor you can get as a civilian, so we did a little party. When I first met Sidney, and his wife, Joanna, we made a loup de mer in puff pastry, so we made that. We had a trio of Chino Farm tomatoes: salad with burrata, essence of tomato, and a tomato tarte tatin. And we had corn agnolotti with summer truffles. Then we had the loup de mer and some steak from Snake River Farm with French fries and steamed spinach, because Sidney always likes steamed spinach and then we had peach cobbler for dessert. So I ate enough and drank good wine: Alain Chavy St. Aubin Premier Cru “En Remilly” 2005, Château Senejac Haut-Medoc 2005, and Krug Grande Cuvée.

By then it was midnight. Maybe I had a few chocolates here and there. I’m very difficult with chocolate. Chocolate and coffee have to be just perfect for me. I like to have chocolate which is not too sweet and has really strong chocolate flavor—at least an 80 percent chocolate. Milk chocolate, I won’t even touch it. It’s very difficult for me to go anywhere.

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