Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s cooking has defined Californian cuisine with its fresh ingredients and bold, cross-cultural cooking style. When the chef isn’t overseeing his restaurant empire, of which Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air is his most recent fine dining endeavour, he’s exploring Los Angeles. We tap him for some insider’s intel on the sprawling metropolis.
Where’s your favourite spot to hang out?
The Ritz Carlton in Bachelor Gulch near Vail. It reminds me of my native country, Austria, and the mountains I grew up in. It’s great for skiing and also for hiking and river rafting in the summer.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love visiting museums, especially LACMA and MoCA, and studios of artists such as Ed Ruscha, Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, and Mark Bradford.
Where do you go to escape from the city life?
My favourite beach is Zuma, north of Malibu. At night, my favourite drive is along Mulholland, where you get a view of the city as if you’re on an airplane. But be careful driving – it has a lot of curves and twists.
Image: Sourav Ghosh on Flickr.com
What’s one uniquely Californian dish that can’t be copied anywhere else?
The smoked salmon pizza with caviar at Spago is unique to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I have seen some miserable copies in France, England, and even in Asia.
Name one ingredient that’s you’ve been experimenting with lately.
We have so many great farms in Los Angeles – they come to the farmer’s market in Santa Monica on Wednesdays. One of the most beautiful things to get at the market are the mara de bois strawberries, which remind me of the south of France. Amazing flavour, very sweet. If you eat them with a little vanilla ice cream, you’ll think you’re in seventh heaven.
Images courtesy of Downtown Santa Monica
Where do you sit down with a cup of coffee and a good read?
I love the coffee shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel – it’s very small and from a bygone era.
What’s your family’s go-to brunch place?
If we go for brunch with my family, we usually end up at the Hotel Bel-Air. It feels like you’re in a resort away from the city, yet it’s located only 10 minutes from my house.