Wolfgang Puck -- who for decades has held a seat at the head of the table in the entertainment industry cosmos, from his early work cooking at Ma Maison to running today’s status sanctums Spago, Cut and the recently renovated restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air -- will be the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious dining-world organization made the announcement earlier today via a live feed carried online from Las Vegas.
Puck, 62, will receive his honor at the Beard Foundation’s annual spring dinner, held on May 7 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. Another L.A. restaurant scene luminary, Nancy Silverton, will likely join him on the trip: She was nominated in the Outstanding Chef category for her ongoing work at Pizzeria Mozza in Hancock Park. (Puck himself has so far claimed that accolade twice before, an unmatched achievement.)
The Austrian-born Puck, whose empire earns $400 million a year, recently catered his 18th consecutive Academy Awards Governors Ball. In a departure from past events, a sit-down dinner was skipped in favor of tray-passed food and buffets. The talked-about centerpiece of the menu was a 3D chocolate dessert viewable with special glasses.
Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago, will close this summer for several months for a redesign by Waldo Fernandez, who is responsible for the look of Soho House’s West Hollywood outpost. In late February, the chef, who once hosted a popular, long-running series for the Food Network, told The Hollywood Reporter that he was uninterested in ever doing another show again.
“I’ve gotten offered many jobs to do things,” he explained. “I said, ‘How can I leave my business for two months and just do television?’ Enough people know me.”