WOLFGANG (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

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Mark Leeper

Oct 31, 2021, 10:24:28 AM10/31/21
WOLFGANG is a basically a biography of celebrity chef Wolfgang
Puck, as well as a look at how he transformed the restaurant
industry. (This is also another film of food porn.) Some of what
is said seems to contradict what had been his story up to now. For
example, his abusive stepfather had been described as his mother's
second husband; in fact, she was unmarried when Wolfgang was born
and the stepfather was her first husband.

In the 1970s, being a chef was a blue-collar job. The owner of a
restaurant might be known, but not the chef. Food in the United
States was fairly terrible (think TV dinners). Puck changed that.
For example, he apparently invented the Asian chicken salad. He
also started the whole celebrity chef/food show culture. As he
laments early in the film over a small watermelon, the world is
speeding up for him.

How did he do this? After being a chef in France, Puck came to Los
Angeles to Ma Maison, which had a terrible reputation. He worked
to get fresher and higher ingredients, and also looked for new ways
to prepare them. The film reveals more of the stress between Puck
and Ma Maison owner Patrick Terrail (who claims Ma Maison's rise to
success was his doing, rather than Pucks).

Puck left Ma Maison over this conflict and opened Spago's in Los
Angeles. Spago's was the first serious restaurant to have an open
kitchen. Spago's customers were notable people in the film
industry, and Spago's also seated them based on status. After
Spago's in Los Angeles came media appearances, more restaurants,
packaged food, and so on. It is almost a cliche that he wants to
spend more time with his family, but that seems to turn into more
time teaching his son Byron to be a chef. (What about his other
sons? This seems more predicated on spending time with his family
professionally than as family.)

The film ends with a bunch of platitudes: follow your dreams, do
what you love, etc. Puck says that success in the restaurant
business is just, "You start with the best product and then you
don't screw it up." And rather than people who said he wanted to
change jobs because the grass is greener on the other side of the
fence, he observes, "The grass is greener where you water it the

Released 06/25/21 on Disney+. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:
<A HREF=https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wolfgang_2021>

Mark R. Leeper


Nov 16, 2021, 10:44:24 AM11/16/21
Oh Wolfgang PUCK. So it may have celery, but not Salieri.

Jim Bozley

Nov 16, 2021, 11:49:17 AM11/16/21
...or too may nuts, not too many notes...
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