A global empire of more than 80 restaurants, a stack of best-sellers, Hollywood’s favourite, multi-award winning Chef Wolfgang Puck talks about his passion for food and shares a little about what it takes to stay at the top for over 35 years.
March saw the opening of the striking 68-storey Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, bringing not only a new era of luxury and service to the small island kingdom but also the undisputed talents of world-renowned Michelin-starred chef, Wolfgang Puck. Food and Travel’s Mona Mohammed had the enviable opportunity to have lunch with the chef to the stars.
It was probably inevitable that Wolfgang Puck was going to become a chef; “I was raised in a small Austrian town and my choice was to either follow my father down the mines or take after my mother and learn to cook, an easy choice!”
Surprisingly his career didn’t have the most auspicious of starts, with his first professional boss telling him that he would never make a good chef. Undaunted Chef Wolfgang persisted and apprenticed in some of France’s most celebrated restaurants, Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco and the 3 Michelin starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, before setting his sights on making his own American dream at the tender age of 24.
In 1982 he opened Spago, his flagship restaurant in West Hollywood, rapidly establishing him as one of the standard bearers for Californian cuisine; along the way winning a veritable basket of awards, the only multi-award winner of the prestigious James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and a worthy recipient of much coveted Michelin Stars too.
With over 80 top restaurants around the world and his signature Spago restaurants, still at the top of their popularity, not an insignificant achievement amongst the fickle Beverly Hills diners, Chef Wolfgang has clearly identified that something special. “The secret to a successful restaurant is evolution. It needs to stay relevant and I ensure that I make major changes at least twice each year; be that on the menu or the décor.”
Opening three major restaurants so far from home is a challenge in its own right, and ensuring Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining standards are maintained is no easy task; from sourcing the very best in produce and relevant menus to the brigade of chefs in the kitchen and service front of house. “Of course we have to tailor our menus to reflect locally sourced produce and ingredients, and in Bahrain we have been lucky to find some great organic farm produce in addition to our existing suppliers.” The executive chefs at each restaurant have been with chef Wolfgang for many years ensuring that the WP ethos and culinary excellence are delivered with assured consistency and style.
Sitting in the serene and simple art-deco elegance of re Asian Cuisine, you can see the Wolfgang Puck touch everywhere, from the mouth-watering culinary treasures of his innovative Asian cuisine to the understated luxury and personal service; matched by only by the sweeping vista of the Bahrain skyline commanded by the 50th floor restaurant.
Whether you enjoy the intricate flavours of pan seared wagyu beef pot stickers imbued with just a hint of chilli oil, cilantro and black vinegar
or the delicate flavours of XO shrimp dumplings, with fermented black beans to tempt your taste-buds; delight in the succulent miso-honey marinated black cod, drizzled with sweet bean-sesame dressing; or grilled lamb chops, with a lightly caramelized crust, served perfectly pink, with a cilantro ginger vinaigrette, your culinary senses are in for a gourmet adventure.
Wolfgang Puck at the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay fourseasons.com