Wolfgang Puck Shares Struggles Growing Up Poor - Exclusive

When you see how brightly Wolfgang Puck has shone across his career as a celebrity chef, it might be hard to understand just how far he has come. Learning to cook as a child alongside his mother in Austria, Puck eventually came to the United States and opened up his iconic Los Angeles restaurant Spago (via Wolfgang Puck). It's this personal story that is at the center of director David Gelb's latest documentary work, "Wolfgang," which premiered on Disney+ on June 25. Wolfgang Puck sat down with Mashed to discuss the documentary, his career highlights, and his very early days.

"Well, life is a journey. There are many struggles as you go along, many problems you'll have to solve. Many adverse things can happen to you," Puck began. "I really believe my hardest part was when I was a kid from ... maybe five or four to ... when I left Austria, at 17," he added. Though Puck elaborates that his childhood was quite hard in the new film, he shared an example with Mashed.

"The first Christmas I remember we were living in a one-room apartment," Puck explained. "The stove was there, the bed was there, a table with two chairs or three chairs. That was it. And the heat in the winter, we had three feet of snow. So my mother used to get up — or my grandmother used to get up — and fire up the oven because it was wood. The toilet was far out. So it was really so different," he said. As for Christmas gifts, one still stands out to Puck. "I remember Christmas, my grandmother bought me a box with colored pencils, and I had never seen colored pencils ... that was my gift. We didn't have a Christmas dinner," Puck added.

But Puck's humble beginnings didn't limit him

"We didn't have nothing because we were really poor at that time," Puck continued. "So I think it was so different. So was I unhappy? I don't know. Maybe not more unhappy than the other kids or happier than other kids." Even though his childhood was a challenging time in his life, he didn't let it keep him down.

"I think life, it's really what you make out of it. And later on, my parents built a house, brick by brick, really. And my father did a lot of the maintenance himself, and I had to help him. I used to hate it. I'd much rather spend time in the kitchen instead of being in the construction business anyway. It was really my pleasure," Puck said. After he left Austria, that's when the most rewarding part of his journey happened.

Ultimately, he was able to get a job at notable restaurants in France such as Maxim's, the Hotel de Paris, and L'Oustau de Baumanière as a young chef. Then, at 24, he left for the United States, starting in Indianapolis before landing in Los Angeles (via Wolfgang Puck). It certainly paid off and clearly brought him much happiness, especially after such a tough start.

For an in-depth look into Wolfgang Puck's journey, David Gelb's new documentary of the celebrity chef, "Wolfgang," is now streaming on Disney+.