Chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck joins season ten of Top Chef as a series judge. The famous chef has built an empire that encompasses three separate Wolfgang Puck entities: Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc.
Wolfgang began cooking as a child with his mother, who was a chef in the Austrian town where he was born, and with her encouragement, Wolfgang began his formal training at age 14. As a young chef, he worked in some of France’s greatest restaurants, including Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and the Michelin 3-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence. At the age of 24, Wolfgang left Europe for the United States. His first job was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975.
Wolfgang came to Los Angeles in 1975 and very quickly garnered the attention of the Hollywood elite as chef and eventually part owner of Ma Maison in West Hollywood. His dynamic personality and culinary brilliance that bridged tradition and invention made Ma Maison a magnet for the rich and famous, with Wolfgang as the star attraction.
From Ma Maison, Wolfgang went on to create his first flagship restaurant, Spago. From its opening day in 1982, Spago was an instant success and culinary phenomenon. Wolfgang and Spago earned many accolades, including winning the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year, twice, in 1991 and 1998, the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant of the Year in 1994, and two Michelin stars, one of only three restaurants in Los Angeles to receive this distinction. Wolfgang is the only chef to have won the Outstanding Chef of the Year Award two times.
In 1983, Puck went on to open Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. Then in 1989, Wolfgang opened his third restaurant, Postrio, in San Francisco’s Union Square. In 2006, Wolfgang opened CUT, a sleek, contemporary steakhouse at the acclaimed Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. After only one year, CUT earned a prestigious Michelin star among numerous other top accolades.
Wolfgang has changed the way Americans cook and eat by mixing classic French techniques and Asian- and California-influenced aesthetics with the highest quality ingredients. He also has changed the face of dining in cities throughout the nation, first in Los Angeles, then in Las Vegas, where he was the first star chef to create a contemporary fine dining restaurant with the opening of Spago. He’s opened five additional restaurants in Las Vegas to date. Additionally, Wolfgang and his Fine Dining Group have opened a multitude of restaurants across the United States and internationally.
Wolfgang formed Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) in May 1998, alongside partner Carl Schuster. The company provides special event catering and contract dining services for cultural, corporate and entertainment venues across the country, including the annual Governors Ball, where Puck has been honored to serve as official chef for the post-Academy Awards celebrity banquet for nearly 20 years.
Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. is a privately held corporation that includes a rapidly growing portfolio of company-owned and franchised locations of casual Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar and Wolfgang Puck Bistro restaurants, and fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Express restaurants, consumer products including Wolfgang Puck branded packaged foods and beverages, book publishing, and other licensing and merchandising projects.
Concurrently with his restaurant and catering operations, Wolfgang has made a name for himself as a communicator. He has written six cookbooks and has been a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning America since 1986, the year he also produced his first instructional cooking video, Spago Cooking with Wolfgang Puck. His Emmy Award-winning television series, Wolfgang Puck, debuted on The Food Network in 2000 and aired for five seasons. Wolfgang also has made guest appearances on a multitude of television shows including The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Ellen De Generes Show, among others. In 2001, the A&E Network featured the life of Wolfgang Puck on their popular Biography series. Wolfgang’s syndicated newspaper column, “Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen,” appears in 30 newspapers in the United States and Canada.
The chef is known to millions of television viewers who see him regularly on Home Shopping Network, where he demonstrates recipes using his growing line of Wolfgang Puck branded housewares.
Wolfgang is actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations including the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Association, Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland, the Animal Foundation, the Gateway Green, the Special Olympics, the Cystic Fibrosis Society, the Race to Erase MS, the Carousel of Hope Ball for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation and the Fire and Ice Ball for Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program.