Puck says of the rise of the celebrity-chef phenomenon: 'Today, chefs are like the rock stars.' / Frantzesco Kangaris

The Austrian-born chef has more than 20 fine-dining restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Spago in Beverly Hills, and is a television regular

You have a very healthy lifestyle but 'tis the season for over-indulgence. When was the last time you let loose?

I try not to eat too much – I go for quality instead of quantity. At Christmas you sit at the table and you can eat and eat. I don't do that. I love good wine and Champagne. And I take some good bread and cheese from the restaurant. I grew up with venison, so we often have the stew with the fresh noodles. Sometimes we have the small turkeys and then the traditional desserts. And we get a lot of produce in from France: good oysters and foie gras.

What was it like being part of the rise of the celebrity-chef phenomenon?

Amazing. I remember in the late Seventies, I was in LA with Niki Lauda, the race car driver, a friend of mine. We went to a club and I went to dance with a girl. She said, "What do you do?" and I said, "I'm a cook" – and she left me on the dance floor, mid-song! Today it's the other way round, chefs are like the rock stars.

You cater at the Oscars every year. That must be quite an undertaking.

I changed the whole concept of the party. Before, it was a formal sit-down dinner. But they were all already sitting down for four hours. One year, Barbra Streisand came and said, "Why did you seat me with these people I don't know?". I said, "It's not me, it was the Academy!" I went to them and said, "We have to bring in open seating". Next year, Barbra rang and said, "I'm coming with Adele" and they sat on a table with Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg and all their friends so they could talk. We also make a lot of smaller dishes so it is more of a party with great food always coming by. This year, we made 16,000 small dishes.

I am half-expecting to catch you out with this. How many restaurants do you have?

We have 22 upscale restaurants, like Cut and Spago and then, including the airports and the express restaurants, we have over 80 – and a few under construction. We're opening in Dubai and then Bahrain. I don't want to just have a fixed television career – the restaurant business is really what I do.

Is anyone famous banned from any of your restaurants?

Ha ha, no, we have no one on the black list! But when I left Ma Maison, I had a big divorce with the owner guy. After I set up Spago, I told the maître d', "If you let Patrick in, you're fired". One day, the maître d' calls me and says, "Patrick is coming with Johnny Carson, what should I do?" And I said, "You know what to do," and put the phone down. He told them they couldn't come in and then Johnny Carson got all pissed off – and he got pissed off at me! But these kinds of things really don't happen very often.

What's the clientele like nowadays?

We have a lot of young people come in, like Justin Bieber. He comes to Spago three times a week. People wouldn't think it with these young people – but he loves the truffles and he likes a good steak.

You have a playlist on your website of which every song is classic rock, other than one by Jay-Z. How come?

Some music fits better in the restaurants. I can play Beyoncé or Rihanna – especially if they come in. But, having 50 Cent playing, the lyrics are a little too much. I like hip-hop but sometimes the beat goes too hard to eat to. I remember Paul Weller called me over to his table once and said, "Who does the music here?". And I said, "Me, why?" and he said "A bottle of Vega-Sicilia, a bone-in fillet and Pink Floyd – it's perfect!"


Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck, 65, trained in Monaco and Paris before moving to the US in 1973. He has more than 20 fine-dining restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Spago in Beverly Hills, and is a television regular. He lives in Los Angeles with his third wife, Gelila Assefa, and their children. Puck's new cookbook Make it Healthy is available to purchase at CUT at 45 Park Lane, priced £22.50, or online through Amazon and Hachette.