“Anybody can cover up meat or fish with sauce, but to keep it really simple is often the most difficult way to cook,” explains chef Wolfgang Puck. In an interview about CUT, his first restaurant in Europe and housed at 45 Park Lane in London, Puck discussed why he chose this particular location, what makes a world-class steakhouse, how he sources ingredients, and what kind of steak he himself prefers.
Tell me a little bit about why you decided to introduce the first Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Europe to 45 Park Lane in London?
Opening a restaurant is a partnership just like a marriage. When I was first introduced to Chris Cowdray, the CEO of Dorchester Collection, I knew that was a right fit for our first restaurant in Europe. And having CUT at 45 Park Lane located in a small luxury hotel makes it a wonderful base for me and my family to stay when we are in town.
What makes a good steakhouse, and how will CUT differentiate itself in the London dining scene?
Obviously, to have a great steak you have to start with the best products. Our steaks or fish are simply grilled on a wood-burning grill and served with great side dishes. All of the vegetables come from outside of London, so to me, simplicity is the highest art form. Anybody can cover up meat or fish with sauce, but to keep it really simple is often the most difficult way to cook.
When you decide to open an establishment in an new region, for example in London, how do you decide to balance local, more traditional ingredients with the flair and creativity of your culinary expertise?
Yes we do use local ingredients but we have to stay true to our brand by using meat from the United States, Japan, and Australia, but also we use cottage beef, game, pheasant and partridges from England. Our chef David McIntyre is not only a great technician and good manager but also he’s very inventive and makes up exciting new appetizers, desserts, side dishes and especially small bites for our bar.
Since opening your first restaurant in 1992, what are some of the leadership lessons you’ve learned along the way?
We opened Spago in 1982 and our first CUT in 2006. I always believe you have to lead by example so everybody in our restaurant knows I might be there early in the morning after having gone to the fish market or farmer’s market, and often I’m the last one to leave.
How do you think about responsibility and sustainability among your dining establishments?
I always think we have the responsibility to leave this world in a better place than we found it which means we have to be responsible so that in years to come, there’ll be wild turbot, wild salmon, or any other ingredient available for future generations to taste. Our motto is we want to know how you treat what we eat, so we use only humanely treated animals, fish and shellfish which are not on the endangered species list. Vegetables and grains have always been my favourite ingredients. Not only are they very good for you but they’re also very tasty.
Finally, what cut of beef does Wolfgang Puck prefer?
I like a dry-aged rib eye steak grilled rare with lots of black pepper and good sea salt. I like it with some French fries with a little Béarnaise sauce with mustard so I can dip the potatoes in the sauce but never the meat.