A Minute With: chef Wolfgang Puck on new movie and not retiring


FILE PHOTO: Wolfgang Puck poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

June 23, 2021

By Alicia Powell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, known for feeding Hollywood stars at the post-Oscars Governor’s Ball feast, stars in his own film “Wolfgang”, which looks back on his life and career.

The documentary, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival this month, sees the 71-year-old recount his journey from cooking as a teenager in Austria as a form of escapism from his difficult relationship with his stepfather to moving to the United States aged 24 and building a restaurant empire with locations around the world.

In an interview with Reuters, Puck and director David Gelb spoke about making the film, released on Disney+ on Friday.

Below are excerpts.

Q: Why did you want to make the film?

Puck: “I want young people to know that adversity sometimes makes you stronger. You just have to fight through it…and don’t give up. I think a lot of young people give up too fast and too easily. Success doesn’t come overnight.”

Q: What was the film’s premiere like?

Puck: “I was holding the hand of my wife and sometimes I started to shake because I felt still my old life in the inside, it didn’t escape me. It’s still in there. And it almost like came to the surface. But then afterwards, we went to…our restaurant in New York and had a dinner and we drank enough … But I think it was an interesting experience to see it so big in front of you.”

Q: Was there much weight gain during production?

Gelb: “Oh, my God, I mean, first there is the weight gain of the shooting and eating everywhere with Wolfgang … then there is the stress eating when you’re doing the post-production and trying to make the movie work. And then there’s the going to release the movie and having big dinners for that. So, I think I’d say a good 20 percent gain.”

Q: Do you plan to retire?

Puck: “If you take away what I do, I think part of me will die and I think I could not sit at home, watch TV, that’s not who I am. I cannot play tennis six hours a day because I think my muscles are too old for that, or my bones. So, to me, doing what I love is the best thing. Why should I change?”

(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian;Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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