It’s ironic that the father of California cuisine is enjoying his biggest headlines in recent memory for a New York City restaurant. But this latest outpost of Cut (the sixth for the steakhouse chain, opened last October) is the first time his 35-year-old restaurant empire has hit the Big Apple.
Cut is like so many of the concepts in Wolfgang Puck’s portfolio: unapologetically fine, anchoring a tony hotel, adorned with priceless artwork on the walls and a $125 steak on the menu ($200 if you add white truffles to the cut). While other independent restaurants are scuffing the polish of some of their pricier spots, with bar menus and rewards programs to make them inviting to more diners, Puck is doubling down on the glitz.
Yet, if chefs were comics, Puck would be one of the original kings of comedy—a celebrity even before cooks were cool. He notes he was among the first to popularize open kitchens. Now, more than three decades later, the 66-year-old (who will gain a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame later this year) cultivates his popularity with the people by meeting consumers where they are: in the grocery store, in the airport and in their homes with products, frozen foods and even online cooking classes for home chefs.
His ever-growing fast casual and grab-and-go restaurants, which include his Wolfgang Puck Express and The Kitchen, are in more than 40 airports and grocery stores around the world. It’s these properties that bear his moniker on their signs, keeping the name and the brand top of mind for the masses.
“Longevity means we have to evolve, that we have to change and be able to change. Even if you’re very successful and say everything is fine, you have to look forward and ask, ‘What can we do better and how can we change?’”
—Wolfgang Puck, to Forbes in 2016
1982: Spago debuts
1987: Frozen food line introduced
1998: Wolfgang Puck Catering launches
2000: “Wolfgang Puck” television series premieres on The Food Network
2010: First international concept: Cut in Singapore
2011: Puck oversees F&B at the Hotel Bel-Air in London
2016: Online cooking school launches
2016: First NYC restaurant opens
Concepts: Cafe at the End of the Universe, Chinois, Cloud 9 Cafe, Cucina, Culture Kitchen, Cut, Five Sixty, Gelson’s Grab and Go, Jai, Measure, Red/Seven, Spago, Spectra, The Source, The Kitchen, Trattoria del Lupo, Wolfgang Puck American Grille, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Wolfgang Puck Bistro, Wolfgang Puck Express, Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Wolfgang Puck Kiosk, Wolfgang Puck Kitchen & Bar, Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina, Wolfgang Puck Steak, WP24