This Restaurant Changed Wolfgang Puck's Life Forever

Many a chef can point to a pivotal or life changing moment that involved cooking or eating a meal that helped define their culinary path, and Wolfgang Puck can certainly be counted among them. Food can spur some interesting emotional connections, and Puck can credit his epiphany to a restaurant in France where one chef inspired him with his cooking, the food he prepared, and his dedication to his art.

According to First We Feast, Puck revealed that Michelin 3-star restaurant L'Oustau de Baumaniere, located in Provence, France in the village of Les Baux, really changed his life and set him on the path that has resulted in successful restaurant ventures like celebrity haunt Spago, trend setting Chinois, and Cut, where he is teaching the skills of the trade to his son Oliver

Puck shared that he had such admiration for the founder of L'Oustau de Baumaniere, Raymond Thuilier, he wanted to be just like him. Puck said, "I saw Raymond Thuilier and I said, 'I want to be like this guy.' He was the mayor, a painter, a real Renaissance man who cooked from the heart. He was always changing his recipes. Sometimes he'd add lemon, sometimes he'd add cayenne, and that was so interesting to me." Thuilier's influence and approval also propelled Puck to rethink his career path.

Puck might have gone into the medical profession

It wasn't easy at first. Puck told Inc. in 2009 that Thuilier "didn't pay me for three months. I finally told him I had to leave, because I was broke, but he said, 'No, I like you!'"

Puck went on to share with First We Feast that if Thuilier had not called him back from a vacation to be the chef at the sauce station, Puck might be a doctor today instead of a chef. Puck shared, "One time he didn't know I was on vacation in Austria and he asked where I was. He ... said I needed to come back in two days because he wanted me to be the chef of the sauce station." However, Puck went on to note that if he took the train, he wouldn't make it back in time, so he had to take a plane — a first for the celebrity chef.

But working for Thuilier was not a walk in the park. Puck said of the experience, "He'd go back and forth between the dining room, talking to guests, and coming back into the kitchen and yelling at everybody. But without him, I might have become a doctor." The world clearly owes a debt to Thuilier.

The good news is L'Oustau de Baumaniere is still a part of the culinary scene, a place where you can rub elbows with royalty and celebrities alike and enjoy the food that set Puck on his professional journey.