And makes me absolutely wasabi green with envy.
Wolfgang Puck is no longer a person. He is an empire. In fact, he is one of the original empires. Long before Rachael Ray with her 35 shows on the Food Network, books, and magazine, long before Emeril's line of cookware, bottled Essence, and "Bam!" there was Wolfgang with his "Live. Love. Eat."
Now, I do have some reservations. From the perspective of my Delicious Life, I consider it a wee bit of a commercial sell-out with his mass-produced frozen pizzas and canned soups. My dining experiences at Spago have been *eh*, other than the fact that I got to spy on celebrities in the dining room. I don't necessarily love his cuisine, but I have to respect that he was, among others of course, an innovator, or at least an early adopter, of Asian fusion and California cuisine.
However, from the perspective of Sarah-who-wonders-why-she-ever-went-back-to-school-to-get-an-MBA, I have nothing but admiration for such a successful business enterprise - restaurants, cafes, and even little QSRs all over the world, consumer packaged goods, and the Wolfgang Puck brand, complete with a tagline that most people know. He didn't do so well in his attempt on the Food Network, but perhaps that makes it easier to not hate him, even though I do because, well, I'm J-e-l-l-o, jealous. The man certainly had to have talent in the kitchen to get started, but now, I highly doubt he does any real cooking. Brilliance in business is knowing how to hire savvy people to work for you, in your name - in his restaurants, on his marketing team, and on his events. I may not have loved my dinner at Spago, but Wolfgang sure knows how to cater a party.
Obviously, the catering company wasn't responsible for the grand, lofty venue, the glittering crowd, and the very generous hosted bar, all of which added to a fabulous atmosphere. However, for a party of such scale, the food could have been *eh*, especially since it could have been ignored for the atmosphere, but it wasn't. The food was very very decent.
As an army of synchronized servers approached the tables with the first course, and from a distance, I thought they were serving burgers. A full burger as an entree definitely made me notice, but I certainly wasn't disappointed when it turned out to be a fresh, sweet tomato salad. Thick slices of alternating colors, slippery with juice, were layered between with a tiny delicate disk of milky, silky mozzarella. Frilly frisee adorned the top, a bitter, fussy contrast to the sweet, voluptuous tomatoes.
Chicken, like salmon, makes regular appearances on catering menus, but as is the case when in a restaurant, I try to order something more interesting. However, even with chicken's stigma of almost always turning out to be bland, dry, and rubbery, I selected it. Was I worried I might pop the seams on my cocktail dress if I ordered the steak and potatoes? :) Probably.
Though it was just under an optimal temperature when it came to the table, the chicken surprised me with its flavor and texture. It shimmered with a glaze that I expected to be achingly sweet, but was only mildly so. The meat was tender, and though it wasn't necessarily dripping with juice, for when does chicken ever drip with juice, it certainly helped that there was a pool of sauce on the plate. The sauteed spinach was a little bit salty, even for me, but I probably shouldn't have eaten it all by itself, all at once. I do that, you know.
Since I was wearing a bright tropicana orange halter dress that I borrowed from my Mom's wardrobe of clothes that she wore when she was 24 (she still has the stuff, but only lets me "borrow" for now, saying I can have it all after she dies - sheesh, I hate when she says that) I managed to restirct myself to half the chicken so I wouldn't actually look like a plump little orange. However, I tossed all regard for personal fabulousness onto the floor to make room for the gorgeous dessert on the table.
I have no idea what the perfect little dome of chocolate was called. Did the server say something about a truffle bombe? I can't remember because I had blocked out all other sight and sound, every muscle in my body tight and twitching, focusing its energy forward, down my arm, settling as an enormous electric charge of lustful chocolate craving at the tips of my fork. My hand was on the fork, held back by my inner Emily Post, but as soon as I saw one of the Partners dive into his, my fork flew forward like on a long-lost lover. Exquisite gold flakes, a lovely abtract work of chocolate garnish - mere accessories that I flicked off onto the plate. I tapped the dome lightly, unsure of how soft or hard it would be, broke through a thin membrane of chocolate coating and hit a luxurious resistance. It was deep, dark chocolate, as heavy and smooth as a truffle, but with an ephemeral density that melted into silky softness over my tongue, filling my mouth, my head, forcing my eyes shut in a moment of quiet chocolate ecstasy.
Totally made up for canned soup.
Wolfgang Puck Catering
Hollywood & Highland
6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 513
Hollywood, CA 90028
** a year ago today, lawry's was a good shopping break **