Last Thursday night, Wolfgang Puck, the Austrian-born culinary force whose restaurant empire spans the globe, touched down at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek for a blow-out wine dinner at Spago, the resort's tony in-house restaurant that Puck inspired. The dinner, a benefit for First Descents, an organization that offers outdoor adventure therapy to young adults battling cancer, featured Spago chef Mark Ferguson, and Puck, front and center, cooking his signature California cuisine and mingling with an appreciate crowd of foodniks and fans.
I snatched fifteen minutes with the celebrated star chef, who discussed everything from shopping at Walmart to hosting an intimate food and wine festival at the Bachelor Gulch resort where he's often spotted schussing down the slopes during the holidays.
On Walmart: Millions and millions of people have to shop at Walmart for their groceries because it's affordable, but so long as they're buying food that they can cook well at home, that's all that matters. Not everyone can afford to shop at the local markets.
On Meatless Mondays: If you can eat good meat on Monday, then eat meat on Monday, but at the end of the day, we all need to eat more vegetables than meat. There's no moderation for meat, but an awful lot of moderation for vegetables, and we all know that vegetables are good for our body; a diet rich with meat isn't.
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On foie gras: I'm an advocate of humanely raised animals, and three years ago, we made the decision to stop serving foie gras at any of our restaurants, because it's not humane and we wanted to set an example. We should all eat more fish.
On a new Colorado food and wine festival: I come here at least once a year to stay involved with the community, and I really want to hold a small food and wine event here at the resort next summer. I'm not interested in an event that has 5,000 people, but something small, where we have the best vintners and sommeliers from here and Europe and great guest chefs who will do intimate cooking classes.
On his new cookbook: The next cookbook will be a coffee table book based on wine dinners, but there won't be any recipes in it -- I'm tired of recipes. Or measurements. Or ingredients. But I will describe how the dishes taste. That's what matters, right?
On opening another restaurant in Colorado: We're opening a Cut Steakhouse in Singapore and London. And it's possible that I'll do another restaurant in Colorado. You'll have to wait and see. It's looking good, though, because Mark [Ferguson] needs another challenge. He spends too much time with his wife.