The untold truth of Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck is one of the most famous names on the food scene. Even if you don't know many celebrity chefs, you've probably heard of his name, or used one of his kitchen tools. Puck's fame is so widespread that he has almost become a legend in food circles, so it's time to separate the man from the myth. Here is everything that you never knew about Wolfgang Puck.

He dropped out of school

Puck knew from a young age that he wanted to have a career in the culinary world. He stopped pursuing a formal education at the age of 14 in order to study his craft. "I left school and then I started my apprenticeship in Austria," he told The Daily Meal. "Then, I went to France and worked at great restaurants like Maxim's in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and L'Oustau de Baumanière in Provence."

At that age, Puck didn't expect to become a chef. His original goal was to become a pastry chef

He first learned to cook from his mother

Puck's first cooking teacher was his mother, who was a professional chef at an Austrian resort. Puck's recipes are often influenced by his mother and his Austrian heritage. "I fell in love with food because of my mother," he said in an interview with FoodnService.com.

He hates peanut butter

The chef loves a lot of foods, but don't ask him to ever eat anything with peanut butter in it. "I don't eat peanut butter!" Puck told The Daily Meal. "I don't know why I have no taste for peanut butter, but we have Nutella, which is a chocolate hazelnut paste."

He's an art aficionado

He may be a legendary chef, but Puck's interests don't end in the kitchen. He's an art aficionado who has also thought about painting. His restaurants are noted for displaying fine artwork, with works curated by his wife, Gelila Assefa.

Puck told Billionaire that while he has considered creating his own art, there's something holding him back. "I don't just want to be another guy putting paint on a canvas and I worry that I'm too old now to have time to get good at it," he said. "I'd want the same reaction from a painting as I might get from a dish. I wouldn't say I was a perfectionist but, you know, if you cook a steak in a cold skillet and it comes out grey you say 'what the hell is this?' And if I got the same reaction to a painting — 'oh my god!' — then burn it. To be good at anything you have to learn the skills."

He believes that the basics of cooking are the most important

Puck believes in getting down to basics when it comes to cooking. He told Mediaite that when he first started as a judge on Top Chef he was surprised to see many of the contestants "lack a basic foundation." 

"Like if you're in France, and Austria, and Italy somewhere and you do an apprenticeship, you learn the basics," he said. "And I think here I was surprised that a lot people know how to do recipes, but the basics are very difficult for them, like cooking a perfect omelet."

He thinks he would have done pretty well as a contestant on Top Chef

As a judge on Top Chef, Puck has met with a lot of chefs. He thinks that if he had appeared on the show when he was younger, he would have been able to hold his own. "I think I would have done pretty well because I always had a good instinct about food, you know, and I always was very clear about using great ingredients," he told Mediaite.

He doesn't eat breakfast

Many people might consider breakfast the important meal of the day, but it's one that Puck is prone to skipping. He told Esquire that he doesn't like eating in the morning. "I have a double-espresso cappuccino, but no food," he said.

Puck might not eat breakfast, but that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy breakfast food. According to Puck, "You can eat an omelet at midnight, at lunchtime, all day long. It's perfect for every occasion."

He makes time to cook for his family

With dozens of restaurants around the world, Puck is a very busy man, but prioritizes his family.  The celeb chef makes time for his wife and kids and cooks dinner for them. "Most of the time, I will cook the food, and we'll eat together," he told Esquire. Thanks to Puck, his kids eat a pretty healthy diet.

"The kids love vegetables, so we always have really good ones straight from the farmer's market," Puck said. "We steam them with a little olive oil, and a little truffle salt on the top, and if it's beans, broccoli, or asparagus, we'll cook them. We might have pasta, some fish, or risotto, which the kids love, too."

He's inspired by cuisine from Asia

Puck is heavily influenced by international cuisines, particularly food from Asian countries. Puck said that he has long been inspired by Japanese, Chinese, and Indian food. In an interview with Billionaire, Puck said that Chinese food is "ripe for reinvention." He believes that in order for cooking to be innovative, chefs must experiment with dishes.

"Cooking can't stand still," he said. "We can't just keep doing what we did 30 years ago. People want an experience with their food now and I say that as a classically trained chef. We have to keep finding new ways of cooking."

He loves pizza

Believe it or not, one of the gourmet chef's favorite foods is good old pizza. He always has pizza dough ready to go at home to prepare a fresh pie with his kids.

"Stretching the dough with the kids is a lot of fun," Puck told Serious Eats. "We throw the dough in the air, then place the dough on a small cutting board or a pizza paddle. Brush the dough with olive oil or tomato sauce, grate some fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, and a little goat cheese on top. Bake it for eight to ten minutes. On the slices that I eat, I'll add a few chile [sic] flakes and some fresh basil."

Television bores him

While Puck is a television personality, running his restaurants is what he most enjoys. "The restaurant business is my passion," he told Dot News. "Television is boring to me; I do it just to stay in the picture a little bit, so that they know I'm still there. People are so visually affected. Do I need it? No, but once in a while it's OK — whenever it's good for me and I don't have to travel."

He made a huge gamble when opening his first restaurant

Puck is wildly successful now, but he took a huge risk when he opened his first restaurant. Spago opened in West Hollywood in 1982. "I didn't know if I would make payroll," he told Variety. Puck had no money in the bank when the restaurant opened, but fortunately it proved to be a hit. "It was like a fire, it was so crazy busy, people had to wait for a table even with a reservation," he said.