THE PANDEMIC-FUELED stress we’re all experiencing has not driven chef Wolfgang Puck to the drive-through. “I’m never so hungry that I say, ‘Oh, my God, I have to get an In-N-Out Burger or a Chick-fil-A’ or whatever the kids are eating,” he said, before admitting to one guilty pleasure. “I have chocolate everywhere: in the office, here at home, in my bedroom, in the freezer, in the refrigerator, everywhere.”
We recently caught up with Chef Puck to quiz him on his go-to gadgets and gear, both when he’s facing the stove at home and otherwise. Here, he shares his kitchen playlist for cooking with his family, identifies the most important piece of culinary equipment he owns and explains how he creates infused vodkas in a matter of hours.
I’m not a big TV-watcher or movie-goer. After a long day, I’d rather take a melatonin and head to sleep. But my wife sometimes gets me interested in a show. Recently she said I had to try ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix. I watched it straight through and really enjoyed it. It’s extremely well done.
Often I start my day with juice, a bit of fruit and two double espressos. So, when people ask me what the most important part of my kitchen is, I always say my espresso machine. It’s a Nuova Simonelli, which is similar to what we use in our restaurants. We like them because they don’t break down. I have my espresso machine on 24-7.
When I was a kid, to make extra money, I picked up tennis balls and cleaned the courts at an Austrian seaside resort where my mother was a chef. When I came to California, I started to play regularly and I love it. I have a Playmate tennis ball machine so I can take some swings when I’m alone, hit 100 backhands and get a little exercise. The machine never complains or calls a ball out, and she’s always there when I need her.
One high-tech kitchen gadget I love is the PolyScience Sonicprep ultrasonic homogenizer, which uses sound waves to infuse food with flavors extremely quickly. You can, for example, put alcohol and fruit in the machine and craft an amazing pineapple-flavored vodka in only a couple of hours instead of waiting four weeks.
When my son and I are in the kitchen cooking together we listen to a lot of music on his phone via Spotify. He really likes The Weeknd, who I think has great lyrics and melodies. Of course, given my age, I always like listening to Queen, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.
I’ve driven Cadillac Escalades for years. Right now I have a black 2020 and it’s great: I can go to the fish market or the farmers’ market, but I also take my wife out for dinner in it.
—Edited from an interview by Chris Kornelis
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Appeared in the January 2, 2021, print edition as ‘Wolfgang Puck.’