Before there was Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain and Emeril Lagassé, there was Wolfgang Puck. Considered by many to be the first celebrity chef, Puck has built a reported $90 million empire comprising more than 20 restaurants, best-selling cookbooks and an eponymous line of cookware, wine and coffee.
Now, the 71-year-old award-winning chef is starring in a new documentary about his life, which will start streaming on Disney+ on June 25.
The film chronicles Puck’s troubled childhood in Austria to his rise as a global star on the culinary stage. According to Disney+, it is a “film that showcases the power and strength of the human spirit.”
Puck told Yahoo Finance Live how he escaped a tyrannical stepfather in Austria as a teenager and found joy in cooking, which became his lifelong passion.
“A lot of young people I talk to, they came from homes similar to mine,” said Puck. “Maybe their mother was really great and the father often, you know, is drunk, or my stepfather was totally crazy, and he physically and mentally abused me and my sisters. But there are always adversaries where you have to overcome them.”
He hopes the film will be an inspiration, especially to young people. “They're going to say, ‘Wow, I didn't know Wolfgang came from such an environment where at 14 he was thinking of jumping in the river and killing himself instead of going on with life.’ But I think adversity, it sometimes makes you stronger,” he said.
The two Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur helped pioneer California fusion cuisine starting in the early 1980s with his first restaurant, Spago, in Hollywood.
The documentary is directed by David Gelb, the creator of the popular Netflix series "Chef’s Table," and follows Puck’s journey as a 24-year-old immigrant, to a household name who went on to have a huge celebrity following, catering for the Oscars and being honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.