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Culture Opinion

Wolfgang Puck Has Been Innovating for 30 Years, And Is Nowhere Near Done

Behind swank velour curtains, surrounded by a genius staff, is a mastermind, an artist, but most prominently, an innovator.

Chef Wolfgang Puck stands across from me in his domain. We’re separated via the greatest spread of food I have ever seen, a stunning and glowing preview of what the legendary chef has cooked up for this past year’s Oscars dinner.

It isn’t surprising that every article or interview with Wolfgang Puck revolves around his repertoire, seeing as he’s the seminal celebrity chef of modern American cuisine; his reputation radiates and draws attention like the proverbial moths to a flame .

However, I was pleasantly surprised to be joined in this interview by Wolfgang Puck’s son, Byron Puck, which led to some rather not-so-formal chit chat that revealed some illuminating facts of Wolfgang’s past.

Wolfgang came from incredibly meager means. At the age of 14, he worked in a kitchen for a hotel in Austria. After days of being berated by his stepfather, telling him he was good for nothing, he decided to leave the house for good. So Wolfgang left to go to the only place he found any comfort — the kitchen.

Unfortunately, the kitchen wasn’t having it this fateful day, and his boss, who chose Wolfgang as his punching bag, told him that he was fired and to never come back. After this, a dejected Wolfgang decided to go to a bridge to drown himself. After hours of sitting on the bridge, he decided that the only real option, the one that he felt his bones dragging him to, was to go back to the kitchen.

It’s in this kitchen that Hollywood can find some of its glitz and glamor, not the facades like in the backlots of studios, but the stuff called passion and culinary artistry. It’s a fitting choice to have the one and only Wolfgang Puck as the chef to feed Tinseltown on their biggest night.

It’s with the values and morals Wolfgang walked away with through his tough time coming up that he has instilled in Byron, which are reflected in his form and methodology when cooking.

Though Byron has somewhat followed in his father’s footsteps, he is also still trying to find his own culinary voice and style.

Byron cooks at an LA restaurant/incubator, called Rogue, helmed by his father, which features a crew of young artists searching for their own narratives through food. While Byron has the option to train under and obviously mirror one of the greatest chefs on the planet in his father, he instead discovered a way to tread his own path with the tools his father gave him.

Ultimately, that’s what every parent wants, to afford their children the ability to fend for themselves. With Byron, that faculty is palpable and palatable.

Through seemingly simple dishes like steak and carrots, Rogue and Byron Puck are showing the culinary world that traditions don’t need to be ditched in order to innovate. Instead of simply fine tuning a classic dish until it’s reached perfection, Byron flips what the general public might view the dish as and create something entirely new while still respecting tradition.

It’s refreshing, too, to see that Wolfgang posits the same ideals when recounting the reason for Spago’s — his seminal restaurant — success.

“It’s really interesting because Spago has been there for over 30 years, and all the other restaurants that were open around that time have closed. Why? Because there was no change. I think change is really important, but we also cannot forget where we came from. So you have to have a good mixture of tradition and innovation,” Wolfgang posits.

“One thing I didn’t like was when people would be kept to doing small things, like dishwashing then chopping potatoes and beans, like I did for three years. I said no, I’d rather have someone who’s innovative,” he asserts.

Especially being surrounded by remakes all over Tinseltown, it’s important that there is some originality being strewn into the mix, and what better way to start than with the gut.

Rogue is doing just that, with Wolfgang allowing young chefs to experiment without worrying about economic constraints.

Now, this can very easily be painted as some elite, privileged restaurant and these young chefs are being given an advantage. But anyone who truly looks at what this restaurant means can see that it is essentially a brick and mortar of the American Dream.

With Wolfgang, he’s got both hands on the wheel, his flagship restaurant Spago is still as iconic as ever in fine dining and Rogue is showing the culinary scene what’s what in terms of pushing the envelope of culinary ingenuity.

Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with modern cuisine, and with the help of his son and the chefs of similar mind at Rogue, he can become the father of contemporary cuisine and immortalize what it truly means to be a modern chef in a performance that should be deemed Oscar worthy.

Categories
Celebrity Grub

Here’s How Much Chris Rock REALLY Made Selling Cookies At The Oscars [UPDATE]

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Last Sunday, Chris Rock brought his daughters’ Girl Scout troop to the Oscars hoping generous celebrities would buy some cookies to support the girls. As many eagerly paid cash for their Thin Mints and Samoas, Rock claimed the total came out to $65,243.

Turns out they didn’t exactly raise that much.

According TMZ, the more than $65,000 sale was just a joke made for the performance.

About 500 boxes were sold that night at $5 each, a Girl Scouts rep told TMZ. The actual total was around $2,500. This doesn’t include, however, any off-camera orders that celebrities might have made at a later time.

Still, $65,000 or $2,500, the Girl Scouts did get some great coverage this weekend.

Cover Photo: Chris Rock + Girl Scout Cookies Facebook

Categories
Celebrity Grub

Chris Rock’s Daughters Made A KILLING Selling Girl Scout Cookies At The Oscars

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UPDATE: The actual numbers from the cookie sales have been updated.

During last night’s Oscars, guests were swarmed with Girl Scouts after host Chris Rock brought his daughters and their troop onto the show to sell cookies. Celebrities eagerly held out cash to the young scouts as they awaited their box of snacks.

So how much did they actually make selling cookies to Hollywood’s finest?

According to Fortune, a little more than $65,000.

Apparently Rock’s daughter and her troupe do pretty badly each year when it comes to cookie sales. Rock took this as an opportunity to lighten things up at an already-tense Oscar show by bringing the girls in to cash in on cookie sales.

Celebrities were more than happy to show the Girl Scouts some support.

Christian Bale was pretty stoked for those Thin Mints.

A photo posted by Jennifer (@ferdalump_lane) on

Later in the show, it was revealed that Rock’s daughter and her troupe made $65,243 in cookie sales.

Photo: Girl Scout Cookies Facebook + Chris Rock Facebook

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss Humor Opinion

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar’s Governor’s Ball Dinner Menu

It’s that time of year again! Before you get ready to sit down and discover which of your favorite white people will take home an Oscar, let’s take a peek at what they’ll be noshing on after ceremony. This year’s Governor’s Ball is catered by none other than Chef Wolfgang Puck and we have the exclusive menu.

Hors d’Oeuvres

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To start off the after party, you’ll find the likes of Meryl Streep enjoying some brie or cottage cheese on table water crackers. Gruyere and ricotta will also be ready to spread themselves onto these delicate crackers, blending right in with the hands eager to devour them.

Main Course

MainCourse

Here’s where things get serious. Brad Pitt’s mouth is already watering thinking about the unseasoned, shredded,  boiled chicken resting between two layers of mayonnaise and fluffy, untoasted slices of Wonder Bread (no crusts, of course). A mountain of mashed potatoes piled high like the consistently un/derfunded and overlooked films by people of color will be drowned in butter, much like the voices of the disenfranchised.

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Naturally, to wash this all down, guests will receive a cold glass of milk so their bones can continue to be strong while their will to lift up voices of those who are unlike them continues to soften.

Dessert

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Finally, two scoops of vanilla ice cream will be presented to people like Sir Michael Caine in the finest crystal bowls. The ice cream will be topped with swirls of homemade whipped cream, leaving guests almost as dizzy as their statement backtracking and pseudo-apologies to entire communities of people. For that extra crunch, a vanilla wafer will adorn the sweet treat like a protest stake without a sign.

Chris Rock better bring hot sauce in his bag (swag).

 

*Note: This is a satirical article addressing #OscarsSoWhite. The writer is aware that the Academy Awards are simply the final cog in the film industry machine that constantly (consciously or not) undermines, undervalues, or ignores the creative works of people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and the differently abled. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be shamed for casting aside performances like Idris Elba’s, Oscar Issac’s and Michael B. Jordan’s or films like Dope or Straight Outta Compton while rewarding Eddie Redmayne for playing a trans character.

In case you were wondering what’s actually being served, according to Bon Appétit:

The menu includes a raw bar that clocks in at 2,600 pounds of Maine lobster, whole yellowtail, oysters, shrimp, and Atlantic Bigeye tuna. Perennial favorites like baked potato with caviar and black truffle-laced chicken pot pie will circulate among the guests, along with portions of wagyu short rib with cauliflower purée, taro root taco, and dover sole with sweet potato and chile.

Categories
Video

Watch Disney’s Oscar-Winning Short ‘Feast’

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Last night, Feast took home the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. The short was attached to the Disney animated film Big Hero 6 last fall. Now, months later, the story about a lovable dog with a huge appetite has fetched director Patrick Osborne an Oscar.

Now you can watch the heartwarming short on YouTube for $1.99 or splurge an extra dollar ($2.99) for a high-definition option. Clocking in at a little more than 6 minutes, the short produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios is well worth your time and money.

Get ready to feel.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Ellen DeGeneres Orders Pizza to the Oscars, Here’s Everything You Need to Know About That

One thing is for sure, Ellen DeGeneres sure knows how to host a show.

Midway through the 2014 Oscars ceremony, the charismatic host nonchalantly began soliciting interest from the star-studded audience about hunger and her future plans to order a pizza.

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The unanimous level of interest from her fellow tinsel town friends in the first few rows led Ellen to place an order from Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria, a local Los Angeles-based pizza franchise not far from where the show was hosted.

According to ABC News, the starstruck delivery boy is an actual employee for the shop — not an actor. The bit continued, with Ellen explaining to the delivery boy that actress “Kerry Washington is pregnant, she needs some.

Sure enough, here is Kerry Washington chowing down:

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Big Mama’s & Papa’s staff told ABC News that “Ellen’s talk show has picked up quite a few pizzas from us.”

The shop is known for their giant pizza:

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Additional play-by-play of who ate some, who didn’t, and who pitched in to pay for some:

  • 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor was down for an entire box
  • Brad Pitt helped pass out plates and napkins, but then tore into a slice himself
  • Leonardo DiCaprio looked too damn nervous to enjoy a slice, he politely declined (he pitched in a few bucks though)
  • Off-duty Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) was down for an entire box as well…but he’s awesome, so he passed it down:

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  • Julia Roberts wanted cheese pizza
  • Jared Leto was pretty excited…but he was a gentleman and gave the slice to his mom:

  • Harrison Ford gave zero shits about being a cool guy and immediately stood up for a slice when offered
  • Meryl Streep proves she’s the sexiest lady at her age, and definitely hopped on a slice
  • Jennifer Lawrence enjoyed a slice, because, obviously
  • Dax Shepard apparently gnawing on a slice:

  • And Corinne Fox is seen below chowing down with the likes of Channing Tatum:

And finally, surely the pizza shop was happy with the exposure. Here’s a shot from their Facebook page:

TMZ was quick on the case, with a videographer staking out the pizza shop as soon the delivery boy made it back. They pried him questions about who fronted the bill, here’s the response: