Wolfgang Puck, the Californian chef whose dining empire includes Spago in Beverly Hills and airport outlets across the U.S., is to open a restaurant in London.
Cut, on the ground floor of the Dorchester Collection’s new 45 Park Lane hotel, will be the first European eatery for Puck, 61, who was born in Austria and trained at Maxim’s in Paris, Hotel de Paris in Monaco and L’Oustau de Baumaniere in Provence.
The menu will be based on Cut in the Beverly Wilshire, a contemporary version of the classic steak house, serving dishes such as Kobe beef short ribs with Indian spices. Puck is also opening a Cut in Singapore. The London venue, to start serving next year, comes before he has opened a restaurant in New York.
“New York and London are the two biggest cities for dining in the Western world right now,” Puck said in a telephone interview. “If the deal had been right, I would have gone to New York, and we were very close a few times to doing New York, but it didn’t happen. And London has some great restaurants.
“Elton John comes to Cut and says it’s his favorite restaurant in the whole U.S., and I thought, it seems the English like what we do. Michael and Shakira Caine were in, too, and they said they will come when we are in London.
Puck says he hasn’t yet tried Goodman or Hawksmoor, two of London’s most successful steak houses, but he will visit the city next week to work on Cut and plans to return each month in the first year or two of operation. Does he feel like he’s coming home to Europe or is he a U.S.-based chef branching out in London, like Daniel Boulud, who opened Bar Boulud this year?
“It feels both ways,” he said. “When I’m in Europe, it feels good to be back, but I’ve lived in the same place since 1975 and Los Angeles is the place I know best. I opened my first restaurant in Beverly Hills. I wasn’t influenced by Daniel because we decided around the same time to open in Europe.
“I don’t have a plan right now for any more restaurants in Europe but we’ll see what happens. London will certainly be our base if we do decide to go elsewhere.”
Puck will operate the restaurant rather than owning it, and said he was happy to work with the Dorchester Collection because the luxury hotel chain’s customers were similar to the diners in his Fine Dining Group, which includes Spago, Cut, Chinois and Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina.
His other companies are Wolfgang Puck Catering, which handles big awards ceremonies in Los Angeles, such as the Oscars; and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc., which includes fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Bistros, Expresses and Cultural Cafes, as well as consumer products such as cookware, pizzas and soups.
Puck’s London plans have been one of the worst-kept secrets in the food business since he told me he was in preliminary talks to open at 45 Park Lane when we had lunch with Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in January. It’s only today that the hotel group and Puck are making the official announcement.
“It was about two years ago that I had a meeting with my partners in the fine-dining business,” he said. “We thought, everyone else is expanding all over the world, so maybe we could expand overseas to create a global brand.”
The head chef in London will be David McIntyre, who helped open Spago and Cut in Beverly Hills before starting his own restaurant in San Diego. There’s no opening date for the London venue yet. The hotel says it will be in the spring.
The Dorchester Collection groups luxury hotels in the U.S., Italy, France and the U.K., including the Plaza Athenee in Paris, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the New York Palace.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)