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Universally admired for creating some of the most celebrated restaurants in the world while also setting the benchmark across a spectrum of hospitality sectors, Austrian-born chef Wolfgang Puck is, quite simply, a phenomenon.
He is the name behind more than 100 restaurants and café outlets, from Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York to Singapore, London, Dubai and beyond. He is also the founder of Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide.
He's a television personality too: his Emmy Award-winning television series, Wolfgang Puck, debuted on the Food Network in 2001 and aired for five seasons, and he is a frequent guest on Good Morning America, the Late Show with David Letterman and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Last year, Puck, who celebrates his 69th birthday this month, was recognised with the 2,608th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, becoming only the second chef in history to receive a brass-embedded star. His gastronomic relationship with Hollywood has been long and unprecedented, with Puck acting as chef of the Governors Ball, the after-party for the Oscars, for the 24th consecutive year.
Puck's childhood years are well documented. His mother was a chef in Sankt Veit an der Glan, the Austrian town where he was born, and he began his formal chef training at 14, working in some of France's most- recognised restaurants. In 1973, at the age of 24, Puck left Europe for the US, joining La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked for two years. Two years later, he moved to Los Angeles and quickly gained recognition from the Hollywood glitterati as chef of Ma Maison in West Hollywood. His technical wizardry and vibrant personality made the restaurant a draw for celebrities and affluent diners alike.
Ma Maison gave Puck the platform he needed to open his first restaurant, Spago, originally located in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip and now on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. From the moment it swung open its doors in 1982, it was a culinary sensation.
Puck and Spago picked up numerous awards, including the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year in 1991 and 1998, and the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant of the Year in 1994.
In 2006, Puck opened CUT, a contemporary steakhouse at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons hotel, and within a year it was awarded a Michelin star and secured Restaurant of the Year from Esquire Magazine. Five years later, Puck brought CUT to London, to the Dorchester Collection's 45 Park Lane, where it was described by AA Hospitality Services as "a suitably top-end joint for one of Wolfgang Puck's über-glam international steakhouses". Today, Puck operates CUT outposts in Las Vegas, at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands resort, at the Address Downtown Dubai and at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
In 1998 Puck formed Wolfgang Puck Catering with partner Carl Schuster, offering special event and contract dining services to venues across the US. A strategic partnership with Compass in 2004 fuelled its growth and now its contracts include Sony Pictures Studio, the Rose Bowl Stadium, and NBC Universal Studios. Meanwhile, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, a growing portfolio of company-owned and franchised locations of casual-dining and fast-casual dining restaurants, sees his brand in airports, universities, hospitals, casinos and high-street restaurants in over 50 locations.
His syndicated newspaper column, Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen, appears in 30 news- papers in the US and Canada, reaching more than five million people every week.
The editorial team of The Caterer, with nominations from all the Cateys' judging panels
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