He wouldn't remember me, but I've met Wolfgang Puck a few times. I've got the pictures and probably a little video to prove it, but that's all buried in the archives.
I came across this photo of him and the new "Mrs. Puck" as I was reading my online news of the day.
A few years back, we used to shoot a cooking segment with Chef Mario Martinoli. I miss those segments. It was my favorite feature segment of all time because we got to eat a lot of the food that was featured.
I was spoiled. After having shot and eaten at many of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area, I actually learned how to tell the difference between a good meal and a REALLY REALLY GOOD MEAL. (sigh) I can never look at an AM/PM hot dog the same way ever again.
We interviewed Puck in his Beverly Hills "Spago" restaurant. I don't remember why, but it wasn't the regular cooking segment. That meant no chance of sampling some of the Spago menu. Yeah, true, we could have just bought something, but don't be silly. That's not the point. Free food, man. Free.
Even though it was just cool to be inside, two things made it even cooler. Angela Bassett was having a meal and she noticed that I recognized who she was.
I was grinning and thinking, hey, that's Angela Bassett.
She smiled and I took that to mean, you're right. Yes, it is Angela Bassett.
The second thing that happened was right after the interview. Chef Mario had to leave right away. Just the producer and I were left and we were gathering up our gear. Wolfgang Puck put his had on my shoulder and asked, "Tell me, what can I cook for you guys?"
Wow. One of the most famous and accomplished chefs that I'd ever likely meet offered to feed us. I had nothing else scheduled. This was sure to be memorable.
It didn't happen. The producer, an admitted "meat and potatoes" kind of guy, told Wolfgang Puck that he had to get back to work on the segment.
That wasn't really true.
There's a lot of things I could have said or done that would have found me eating a meal at Spago. At the time, I was just too stunned. Grrr. That particular opportunity may never present itself again, but it's all in the past at this point. I've had many great experiences since and I'll hopefully have many more.
The producer was let go soon after for reasons unrelated. Well, he was producing a fine dining segment and didn't like fine food. That might have been part of the problem.
Congrats and good luck to Mr. and Mrs. Puck. I bet the food at the reception was pretty good.