Q&A with Wolfgang Puck // Celebrity chef celebrating 25 years in Las Vegas
Back in 1992, did you have any idea that you would spark a culinary revolution that would help transform the city?
I had no idea what we were getting into, and at first I didn’t really want to do it. It took some convincing from a friend who was developing the retail complex, The Forum Shops. I said, ‘Everyone in Las Vegas is a gambler and they only comp food. Why would they come to my restaurant?’ But, we came to an agreement, and after 25 years, I think we made the right choice.
Your move inspired Joel Robuchon, “Chef of the Century” with the most all-time Michelins, to “un-retire” and come to Vegas. What else have you inspired in Vegas?
When we first came here, there were no “celebrity chefs.” Now they are on every corner, usually several under one roof. Spago started the fine-dining and chef-driven restaurant concept revolution in Las Vegas, and I think we were the first to inspire people to think about the story behind their food. In the desert, there are few farms growing this great product that we get in California. Bringing those ingredients here and showcasing them in an approachable and delicious way was exciting and important to the overall development of the culinary landscape.
How does the Vegas culinary scene enhance the so-called “Las Vegas effect” of inspiring greater attendance at meetings and conventions?
Vegas today is not only for gaming, but for entertainment of all types: concerts, shows, plays, shopping, nightclubs and of course, dining. The restaurant selection is second to none, attracting people from around the world. With so much offered in such close proximity, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be greater attendance than in other locations.