New York — Wolfgang Puck's celebrity is fed by his famous restaurants, including the original Spago in Hollywood, his pizzas, pastas and soups on sale in supermarkets, and his regular appearances on ABC's "Good Morning America."
With all that, it's a wonder it's taken him so long to jump on the cooking show bandwagon that has made stars out of Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.
"Up until now I've always been busy," Puck explained over tea at a Manhattan hotel.
Like he's not busy now.
This interview was squeezed between a morning television appearance in New York, for which Puck had a 5 a.m. wake-up call, and a flight back to Los Angeles and his "day job" at Spago. In the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, Puck will have meetings and tastings in preparation for the Governor's Ball, the official Oscar after-party. (Last year, DreamWorks SKG held its Oscar party at Spago, which was the hottest invite in town.)
"Wolfgang Puck," which begins airing Jan. 12 on the Food Network, will follow the chef around his restaurants, to catering jobs, on shopping trips, and then close with the preparation of a dish for a studio audience.
But while Puck's new show will take viewers into A-list celebrity events like the Oscar parties, he won't have stars join him at the stove in his studio at least not yet.
"The public should get used to me first and my accent," said Puck, who still sounds Austrian despite having lived in California for nearly three decades.
Puck moved to the United States in 1973, landing in Los Angeles after a stint in Indianapolis.
The chef, however, wouldn't rule out future appearances with friends like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shares Puck's love of wiener schnitzel and an Austrian accent, and Joel Grey and Suzanne Somers, who are quite competent in the kitchen.
"Wolfgang loves to talk to people," said Robb Weller, the former "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent who now produces service and information programs, including Puck's, with Gary H. Grossman. "He's all about relationships."