When you want to dine at an international restaurant in Istanbul, you will, without a doubt, think of Spago, one of the brands by Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang Puck is a chef wandering around the cosmopolitan cities of the world, and you will surely come across a restaurant with his recipes. They are unique, admired and highly sought after. I met up with Wolfgang Puck, considered one of the world's top chefs, in Los Angeles. First, we had a chat in his office at Design District. Then we went to the Beverly Hills Bel-Air Hotel, where he manages his restaurant as well as all the food and beverage operations.
Having prepared a dish together with Wolfgang Puck, I became one of the lucky few who has had a chance to work in the kitchen with this multiple award-winning chef. Huge truffles, fresh spices and marinated ducks were some of the gastronomic riches that brought me joy in his huge kitchen. You can still see the 69-year-old chef's love and excitement for food, as well as his wonderful mastery. Puck, who has been cooking since he was 14 and whose mother was also a chef, is from Austria. He worked at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco until the age of 24, then at Maxim and at the three Michelin starred L'Oustau de Baumanière in France. In 1973, he came to the U.S. and continued his career here. Today, there are many Spago restaurants around the world; however, he opened the first one in 1982 in West Hollywood. In addition to Spago, Puck has achieved worldwide success with the CUT brand, a catering service in high demand for prestigious events.
Arda Sayıner with Chef Connor Mcvay (L) and Wolfgang Puck (C).
Wolfgang Puck loves Turkey, enjoys eating turbot and lamb in Istanbul and likes traveling with Turkish Airlines. He is a real friend of Turkey and big fan of Turkish cuisine. The chef says: "It is great that one can find fresh seasonal vegetables in Turkey. The land and climate of your country allows you to grow the best of them. The spice variety allows you to enrich the taste of these vegetables. Your seas have great fish like turbot and blue fin. Dining in Istanbul is a gastronomic feast."
He is also quite happy to have his brand Spago in Istanbul. The restaurant opened on the top floor of the St. Regis Hotel in Nişantaşı in 2015 and has rapidly become one of the most popular venues in the city. Puck, who came to Istanbul Spago last year, is very pleased with the popularity of the restaurant. He will open another restaurant in Turkey, a branch of his restaurant chain with Chinese dishes. In short, Puck does not know how to stop working and making his brands grow.
While having this conversation with Puck and watching him cook, I noticed how patient and yet how fast and coordinated he is. When I asked the chef what his dream was, I got the answer: "I had the same question from a reporter from The Wall Street Journal two years ago. My dream was to study at Harvard University. A dean from Harvard University who read my interview called me and invited me to a short-term executive management program. I went to Boston and shared the same dormitory and class with young students for three months. I completed the program successfully. So, I must say I have updated my dream now. The new dream is to open a Spago restaurant with a beach concept. I started working on this. It's not an easy process. I hope I will complete it in a few years."
Other good news from Puck is that this year there will be Turkish food again in the Oscars dinners. The chef, who has prepared the meals for the Oscars for 25 years, included Turkish cuisine for the first time last year. Chef Cihan Kipcak from Turkey accompanied him. Puck said that the president of the Academy Awards liked the food last year and asked for Turkish dishes to be included in the menu again this time around. The famous chef shared very interesting details about food preparation at the Oscars. At this famous red carpet ceremony, a team of 600 people work in the kitchen, and 300 people serve in the dining hall. Each guest is served by one waiter. The menu that was prepared with the various cuisines from different regions and cultures includes 30 dishes. The team knows the sensitivities of each artist. I am sure this year's menu will be another spectacular success for Puck at the event scheduled for March 5.