An intimate portrait of the life and work of the original “celebrity chef,” Wolfgang Puck. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “The documentary Wolfgang talks about how that food is family and food is love. This film depicts the culinary development of Chef Wolfgang Puck and I was delighted to learn more about his upbringing and journey to become the chef and businessman that he is.” Nathalia J. adds, “This film highlights Wolfgang’s childhood trauma – how it affected him as a young boy who aspired to become a great chef; how he became arguably one of the best chefs in the world; the process of opening numerous dining spots; how fame and success affected him and his family.” Mikella G. wraps it up with, “I really like the new documentary Wolfgang because it’s a fascinating, intimate film about world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. It taught me a lot about the food industry, and how much it could impact someone’s life.” See their full reviews below.
By Nathalia J, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Wolfgang, a documentary film directed and produced by David Gelb (Chef’s Table: France and Chef’s Table BBQ), follows the life and career of Chef Wolfgang Puck. This film highlights Wolfgang’s childhood trauma – how it affected him as a young boy who aspired to become a great chef; how he became arguably one of the best chefs in the world; the process of opening numerous dining spots; how fame and success affected him and his family.
The opening minutes follow Wolfgang greeting a farm owner, a close friend of his, as he cuts fresh fruits and rides through the corn field. This scene is important because it allows viewers to see how active Puck really is – daily – even when he is not at work. He enjoys visiting the farm to pick and choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Wolfgang even justifies how involved he is, stating, “At my age, I should probably slow down, and take it easy, but it’s quite the opposite.”
This film also includes statements from friends, family, former colleagues and current workers of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. throughout the film. Nancy Silverton, a pastry chef who worked at Spago (1982-85) (one of Wolfgang’s many restaurants) states, “Wolfgang, without a doubt, was the first celebrity chef. He had so many restaurants, and so many different types of restaurants, all the products that he has on the shelves. I can’t even keep up with him anymore to tell you the truth.” This film shows Wolfgang cooking alongside his young cooks, watching over them and mentoring them. Evan Funke, a cook who worked at Spago (2000-06) states, “The biggest misconception about Wolf is that he is just a celebrity chef and can’t cook, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Mount Rushmore of California cuisine; Wolf’s right there, in the middle. He’s the founding father of the way we eat in this country.”
This film also focuses on the uprising of Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurant, Spago. Ruth Reichil, a food writer stating, “When wolf opened Spago, he changed the way Americans eat, even including pizza on the menu. Who knew pizza can be fancy?!” This leads me to my favorite part in the film, which is about the fancy pizza. Wolfgang shares the story of how he created his legendary smoked salmon and caviar pizza, unpredicted. It all started one night when it was extremely busy at Spago and suddenly Joan Collins (English actress); the biggest star on television at the time comes in. They had run out of an important ingredient that was needed to create the dish Joan Collins regularly ordered. They also ran out of baguettes or any other bread. Wolfgang got to work and started spreading out pizza dough, added some finely chopped onions, and baked it for a few minutes. Then, he put some milk cream on it, added some smoked salmon thinly cut, a few dollops of caviar, and served it to Joan. Wow! He truly is an incredible chef to come up with such a delicious pizza, out of nowhere. The most interesting part of this pizza is – it has no cheese, nor tomato sauce. This film also shares stories, from the perspective of Wolfgang, as well as his sister, as he visits his hometown of Sankt Veit an der Glan, Carinthia, Austria. He shared the unfortunate events he experiences with his stepfather; how he endured years of verbal abuse and being shut down daily as a young child; and how he overcame that.
The message I took away from this film is to never give up and stay committed. No matter your circumstances or where you came from, never give up on yourself. Wolfgang grew up extremely poor, but never let that define him or influence his courage to make his dream come true.
I give Wolfgang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It releases June 25, 2021, by Disney+.
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
The documentary Wolfgang talks about how food is family and food is love. This film depicts the culinary development of Chef Wolfgang Puck and I was delighted to learn more about his upbringing and journey to become the chef and businessman that he is. Wolfgang is celebrated in my home every day as I use his cookware and my family incorporates cooking tips that my mom learned from watching him on various television shows. He made her feel more comfortable in the kitchen and in trying new concepts with his easy style and engaging personality, which have also influenced my love of cooking.
The film starts showing Wolfgang’s early family life and the reasons behind his joy in the kitchen and love of cooking. We follow Wolfgang’s culinary training until he becomes the first “celebrity chef” and really defines “California Cuisine,” putting the gardens of California on a plate. After all, as Wolfgang says, “The right ingredients make all the difference.” His incredible work ethic had leads to great monetary rewards, but at the expense of disrupting his family life. At the end of the documentary, as he looks back on his life, it seems that he has now found the right balance in his personal life as well as in the kitchen.
The documentary is an emotional journey guided by Director David Gelb. I love the beautiful cinematography and the use of archival footage. Brian McGinn’s script makes you really feel that the movie is in Wolfgang’s voice as he discovers that his purpose in life has been to make people happy through food as a conduit to love. The interviews throughout the film are meaningful and highlight the importance that Wolfgang Puck has made on the food industry.
There are so many important messages in this film such as following Wolfgang’s work ethic and how it’s important to believe in yourself and not be afraid to take chances. Giving up is not an option if you want to pursue your dreams, as nothing comes easy. Wolfgang says a lot of inspiring things in this film; his sentiment I love most is that “the grass is greener where it’s watered the most.” Where to put in the effort applies to life as well as to your garden.
I give Wolfgang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The documentary will be available on Disney+ June 25, 2021 so don’t miss this inspiring story.
By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
I really like the new documentary Wolfgang because it’s a fascinating, intimate film about world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. It taught me a lot about the food industry, and how much it could impact someone’s life.
This documentary starts off telling Wolfgang Puck’s life story. We learn about his culture as well as his family life. As the film goes on, we see his struggles, as well as successes, throughout his life. Wolfgang Puck is an extremely hardworking, determined person, and uses his childhood trauma as a way to never give up, and to keep going. Although he makes many mistakes, we learn that he is just a normal person like everyone else. And, Puck learns from his mistakes, and becomes a better person in the end.
I enjoy that this film shows us the raw aspects of Wolfgang’s life. There aren’t a lot of production and special effects. Instead, everything is very real, and you can get a strong sense into what his life truly is like. Another thing that works very well is how they incorporate many videos from his past. This gives the audience a deeper look at how he works, and the type of person he is. It also contributes to the authenticity of the film. Lastly the interviews with important people in his life are a great addition to the whole documentary, telling Wolfgang’s story from other perspectives.
The message of this documentary film is to never give up on yourself, and your dreams. This film does deal with a sensitive topic – suicide.
I give Wolfgang 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. You can watch Wolfgang starting June 25, 2021 on Disney+
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