Traditional recipes

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck

In our 5-part series we discuss the Spago chef's career

Ali Rosen

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck

For this installment of "At the Chef's Table" we took a look at the ultimate celebrity chef: Wolfgang Puck. The Los Angeles-based chef is known for his many ventures, ranging from fine dining at Spago to airport dining at Wolfgang Express to his annual dinner for the Academy Awards. He is one of the most well-know chefs in the business, but we wanted to look more closely at how he got to be the chef that he is today.

In our five-part series we discussed his childhood influences, the apprenticeships that shaped him, the rise of Spago, and his expansions. We also looked at what the tireless chef will be doing next — and it's definitely not retirement!

Click below for each of our five parts and make sure to come back every Monday to see which chef we will profile next!

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck: Part 1

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck: Part 2

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck: Part 3

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck: Part 4

At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck: Part 5


Enjoy Wolfgang Puck's favorite French recipes

It's almost time to slide into the action at Roland Garros, so preparations for Paris' major tournament must be made. Not only does that mean hitting your local clay court (red or green) to work on your tennis, but eating like a champion, too. Fuel up for the next round of play—and celebrate your most recent match win or hitting session—by cooking these nine ace recipes, served up by legendary chef Wolfgang Puck.

Before Puck created his now-acclaimed, worldwide brand, he began his career at 14, working in some of France's greatest restaurants. Like a tennis prodigy, the Austrian blended innate talent with opportunity, and grew into a renowned chef with spectacular dishes at Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and the Michelin-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, just to name a few.

Puck's restaurant empire stretches from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Dubai to Hawaii—and even inside Stadium 1 at Indian Wells—but Paris will always have a special place in his heart. With the French Grand Slam kicking off on May 30, he is now sharing some his most treasured recipes with you. They pair perfectly with watching the top players square off on terre batture—and perhaps a nice glass of French wine, too.


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At the Chef's Table with Wolfgang Puck - Recipes

For my father, a meal was never a meal without soup.

It didn't matter if my mother started our lunch or dinner with a wonderful salad or maybe some thin slices of delicious sausage or ham.

If there wasn't also soup on the table, he didn't feel he had really dined.

That's not surprising, considering the wonderful vegetable soups my mother produced from her small garden. And vegetable soup was always my father's favorite, since in his younger years he'd been a gymnast and amateur boxer and was always interested in eating healthy foods.

Where we lived in southern Austria, winter seemed to last for six months of the year, so we couldn't wait to go outside to gather our vegetables in springtime. My mother got them started in early March in a low cement-walled hothouse covered with glass doors that let in and held the sun's warmth and at night she'd cover those doors with old blankets to keep the frost away.

So, by this time of year, there would be plenty of fresh produce ready for her soup pot, including yellow and green beans, leeks, and the first thin-skinned summer squashes. Whatever she picked, she'd combine them with other staples to produce simple yet extraordinary soups.

Her strategy, which you'll find in the recipe I share from my Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is easy for you to follow.

She would begin with good olive oil, in which she gently cooked onions, leeks, garlic, and sometimes some fennel bulb to start the soup off with a good flavor base. To this, she added pureed tomatoes or tomato juice and water, taking care not to add so much water that it would dilute the vegetables' natural flavors. (You could use canned chicken vegetable broth instead.)

Once the liquid was simmering, she added most of the vegetables, cut to uniform dice that would cook evenly.

The soup was done when the vegetables were tender but still had some bite, what the Italians call al dente.

If she had any extra-delicate vegetables, such as fresh baby peas or pencil-thin asparagus, they went into the pot just a minute or two before the end-along with small pasta tubes that had also been cooked al dente, to give the soup more body.

At serving time, my mother added two other important touches--a drizzle of fragrant extra-virgin olive oil and some fresh basil leaves--which made each bowlful explode with fragrant flavor. (She also sometimes added a little grated Parmesan.)

Ah! Just thinking about that soup, I can still smell it and taste it right now. For me, it will always capture the essence of spring.

Spring Vegetable Minestrone Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thoroughly rinsed & cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts good quality canned chicken broth or vegetable broth (optional) or water
  • 2 cups good quality canned tomato juice
  • 1 large sprig fresh basil, plus extra basil leaves for garnish
  • 1 large sprig fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup yellow wax beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup) red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup quartered mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup uncooked ditalini pasta or other small dried pasta tubes

Recipe Directions

Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, leeks, and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften but not yet color, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Stir in the broth, tomato juice, and parsley and basil sprigs. Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in another pot, bring salted water to a boil over high heat.

Stir into the broth-and-juice mixture the squash, zucchini, celery, green beans, wax beans, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Simmer until the vegetables are al dente, tender but still slightly firm to the bite, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente, tender but still slightly chewy, following the manufacturer's suggested cooking time. Drain well and set aside.

When the soup vegetables are done, remove the parsley and basil sprigs and stir in the cooked pasta. Adjust the seasonings to taste with more salt and pepper and a little sugar.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some torn fresh basil leaves.


Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 seconds

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the Fried Ramen Noodles:

¾ cup broken ramen noodles (about 2 ounces)

For the Salad:

1 roasted or poached chicken, shredded (about 4¼ cups)

⅓ cup roughly chopped toasted almonds

½ cup diced cucumber (½ English cucumber)

¼ cup whole-fat Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (green and white parts)

1 tablespoon Chinese mustard

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

1½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon togarashi, plus more to taste

¾ cup broken fried ramen noodles

Directions

1. Make the fried ramen noodles: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil begins to ripple and reads 350° on a deep-fry thermometer, add the noodles and fry until crispy and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the noodles to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt while still hot.

2. Make the chicken salad: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the fried ramen noodles. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. To serve: Fold half of the fried ramen noodles into the chicken salad. Top with the remaining fried ramen noodles, then sprinkle with togarashi and serve.


Thomas Keller

As the only American chef with two restaurants holding three Michelin stars (The French Laundry and Per Se), Keller is an ideal teacher of technique, as the level of detail he brings even to the simplest of dishes&mdashlike his beloved roast chicken&mdashwill benefit the home cook. His cookbook Ad Hoc at Home has been one of my most used and reliable tomes in my cooking arsenal since it was first given to me in 2009. Keller has made three separate Masterclasses. His first series focused on building blocks of cooking like braising and sourcing ingredients his second showed meats, stocks and sauces and the third was all about seafood, sous vide cooking and restaurant-quality desserts.


Marni Is the New Chef’s Whites: Nancy Silverton Talks Food and Fashion in Netflix’s Chef’s Table

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

Halfway through the Chef’s Table episode on Nancy Silverton, which debuted this week as part of the Netflix series’s third season, the Los Angeles chef is staking out territory behind the produce delivery truck, rattling off requests with the bark of an auctioneer. “What about baby chicories—just radicchio, no Castelfranco?” she asks about the pink-speckled variety, nowhere to be found. A slice of Rocky Sweet melon earns an enthusiastic “Delicious!” and she packs up a carton of bright-yellow squash blossoms. Dressed in a sail-like white dress and sunglasses, an apron tied around her neck, Silverton gives off a sort of sartorial breeziness, but the quoted $5-a-pound price for haricots verts elicits a sharp, if playful, response: “$4 a pound,” she quips. “You were late today.”

At a time when the measures of culinary success have gone well beyond four-star reviews and reservation books to include globe-trotting reality shows and international awards, the Netflix series—offering portrait studies of just six chefs each season—has become another imprimatur. The lineups have invariably stoked debate, with rock-star figures (Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber) featured alongside quiet masters working more or less under the radar (like the Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan, profiled this season). But the episodes, with an eye for both breadth and intimacy, have a way of humanizing an industry that sometimes plays out like competitive sport. Even Silverton—an MVP herself, having won the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef Award in 2014—had reserves about signing on for Chef’s Table. “The first one I saw was the Francis Mallmann,” she explains by phone, referring to the Argentine legend known for his open-flame cooking in the wilds of Patagonia. “After that, I thought, I cannot! Not only do I not have the story that he has, I also don’t have an island to show off,” she says with a laugh.

Silverton might have needed convincing, but the Chef’s Table audience doesn’t. Her sensibility—grace punctuated with precision—makes for a compelling narrative, not to mention a decades-long career, which took off in a pair of influential kitchens (Michael’s under Jonathan Waxman Spago under Wolfgang Puck) before she and her then-husband, Mark Peel, opened their own place, Campanile, in 1989. It was there, as the restaurant’s pastry chef and the head baker at the influential La Brea Bakery next door, that her talent for fine-tuning recipes found a passionate following. “I think you have to be obsessed with bread to be a baker,” Silverton says, as the camera lingers on her well-practiced hands shaping dough. “You’re always looking at all the nuances that make your perfect loaf.” Or the perfect grilled cheese, a weekly special at Campanile that rose to cult status, as Mario Batali and the Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold recall on-screen.

The episode is also peppered with B-side tracks—lesser-known revelations that seem as emblematic of Silverton’s ambition as they are of the era. “My daughter was born on my day off, and I was back at work on Tuesday,” Silverton says of her whirlwind kitchen life at age 28. Later on, her oldest, Vanessa, remembers catching flak for rollerblading in the family apartment, the rumbles audible in the Campanile dining room down below. If themes of work-life balance emerge, there’s a sense that Silverton has achieved a certain equilibrium these days. We see her glide assuredly between her trio of adjacent L.A. restaurants, pausing to assess the level of funk on a house-cured culatello at Chi Spacca or carefully plating salads at the exposed mozzarella bar inside Osteria Mozza in another scene, she pads into the sun-soaked garden at her home in Italy’s Umbria region, collecting grape tomatoes in a polka-dotted Marni dress. On the eve of her Netflix debut (which she modestly admits she won’t be watching), Silverton speaks with Vogue.com about her aversion to chef’s whites, the preference for flash over flavor in the culinary scene, and why she’s more than happy to hand over the baking reins.

Your love for Italy doesn’t shine through just on the plate, with a work wardrobe that’s clearly strong on Marni. What drew you to the label?You know, I continue to have a strong affinity to Marni, but there’s also a handful of Japanese designers that I like. I love Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Comme des Garçons, and there’s a lesser-known label called Arts & Science. Fashion has become much more an important part of my persona in the latter stage of my life. When I first started cooking, not only did I not think about it, I certainly couldn’t afford it! But I never was a cook that wore a chef’s uniform. I just always had an aversion to that button-down coat, so I wore a long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans and an apron. I needed to feel comfortable in what I was wearing, I think, to feel comfortable in what I was cooking. The real shift was when I opened the restaurant here—that was about 10 years ago—because I wasn’t behind a stove cooking. I mean, my cleaning bill is sort of high, I have to say [laughs], but it’s certainly far lower than if I was cooking on a line. I started to really express myself in what I wore. Defining my style and defining myself in terms of what I put on the plate—I think that they’re very similar.

With Consuelo Castiglioni having just left Marni, which she and her husband started, it makes me think about your leaving Campanile. How did you weather that sea change?When my marriage ended, I first thought that I would be able to stay and continue the professional part of the relationship, but as it got more and more difficult, I actually looked forward to leaving and to opening up a next chapter. Is she going anywhere else?

That I don’t know. Do you have advice for her?Come back! You can do it.

You had an interesting way of navigating motherhood and career because you lived upstairs from Campanile. Was that the secret to success, or did you crave separation?For me, it would have been impossible because it wasn’t just a chef’s life it was a baker’s life. The first three years of the restaurant, I baked at night—that was a midnight-to-eight-in-the-morning shift—so it was so great to run upstairs and say goodbye to my two kids before they went to school I hadn’t had my third one yet. I really didn’t ever exist on long sleep. It was just a series of naps that I took throughout the day, and so it was easy to run up and do that. I think that you certainly can manage having a family and having a career. What I’ve always said from the beginning—and I’m sure it’s true of any other parent out there that feels guilty about the amount of time that they spend away from their family—is that I would have been a terrible parent if I wasn’t allowed to work because I would be resentful.

You paint yourself as more of an intuitive chef than a technique-obsessed one. Do you see that distinction playing a role in terms of who gets recognition?Clearly—but I’m not saying that with any sort of resentfulness.

Is that changing at all? Do you sense a shift in how recognition is being doled out, whether with awards or even things like Chef’s Table?Well, it goes along with what the younger cooks are impressed by. I don’t think the way something tastes is a priority [lately] the priority is how to achieve, and the method in which a certain dish plays out. I think that there are a lot of people out there that can use a whole lot of editing these days—that people are cooking so much from their heads and then try to transfer that to the plate. Most of the time it sort of shows that they forgot to include their heart and their palate, you know?

On the flipside—the Old World, the artisanal—all the slow-motion shots of bread in your episode called to mind the recent revival in baking. Do you sense a La Brea influence?I think with the fresh-milled grains and the resurgence of heirloom wheats, it’s really an exciting time. It’s funny: Baking is such an all-consuming project that I am grateful to all the people that are making such fantastic bread out there. Now I get to just enjoy it. I couldn’t just play with it a little and say, I think I’ll bake a loaf of bread today—because once I go down that road, I’m obsessed. L.A., I think, lagged behind New York and San Francisco in the variety of bakeries that were available, and now within the last probably two years it’s really exploded. We have so many good bakeries, and people are coming here. Tartine Bread is going to open next year, and Dominique Ansel has plans to come and open up a bakery.

Whose bread do you love there now?Right now, Lodge Bread is just delicious. Gjusta is doing a terrific job with their breads. There’s a [flour] mill in Pasadena they’re making bread there now. And there’s a place called Clark Street Bread that’s great. When I first started La Brea Bakery, some of my favorite [breads] I would sell just one or two loaves a day, but I continued to make them because I really, really love them. One was a whole grain, one was 100 percent pumpernickel, and another had a lot of rye. Those are the breads that I’m just loving these days.

Tell me about your Italy home that we glimpse in Chef’s Table.I have a house in Umbria, in a little town called Panicale. I’ve owned it since 2002, but I’ve been going to that same house since probably 1997. I go always in the summer. It started out a month, and then I’ve increased it to about six weeks, and then I go at Christmastime for two weeks.

What about the food there speaks most to you? I’m guessing the garden is overflowing.When I’m there in the summer, it’s always the same: It’s cranberry beans, and there are always tomatoes and peppers. But more than anything, why I love to go and why I love to cook there is I don’t have distraction. So it’s not necessarily what I cook but how I cook. I have many parties when I’m there, and I just spend the entire day cooking. I could not be happier.


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