Who: Foodists meet the art elite
What: CuisineArt 2010
Where: The Walker Art Center
When: Friday, May 21, 2010
Why: To party with fusion chef extraordinaire Wolfgang Puck and raise funds for the Walker’s programs
“The only thing you are missing is a room so you can have sex,” said chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck.
For clarification, he was referring to the Walker Art Center during his introduction to the crowd at CuisineArt 2010, after he rattled off all the other wonderful things you can do at the world renown museum, like taking a class, seeing an exhibit, or eating at 20.21.
Humor was a great way to break the ice among the art elite who coughed up $1,250 a ticket for a chance to hang with Puck and The Splendid Table’s Lynne Rossetto Kasper at the fifth annual benefit, which supports the museum’s artistic and educational programs.
Kasper was a cheery yet smooth emcee, just like her radio persona, and she got Puck to talk about his life and play games.
“I was born in Austria just 25 years ago,” he said before dazzling us with career anecdotes. His first stop in the United States was Indiana but after a year of overcooking steaks, he said, California called.
“Who wouldn’t want to move to California after one year in Indiana?” That didn’t go over too well with those who have ties to the Hoosier state like the stunning Laysha Ward, Target president of community relations. Puck quickly course corrected: “How come you weren’t there when I was there?”
Yeah, yeah, he launched Spago, serving gourmet pizza with smoked salmon, caviar, and crème, which was a hotspot in L.A. in the ’80s. But Puck was ready for something new, “This is too fucking boring.” He then opened one of the first fusion restaurants, mixing east and west—Chinois.
“I like change . . . my second wife . . .” Probably a joke Hollywood would eat up, but we haven’t caught trophy-wife syndrome in Minnesota to such an extent. “I’m not suggesting you get a new wife or husband . . . [that’s] much more expensive than a restaurant.” Good save, Puck.
Now, it was time to play games with the cocky Austrian. In Kasper’s Stump the Chef, audiences called out five ingredients, and the chef had to describe a mouth-watering meal.
Kasper was given anchovies, capers, sauerkraut, butternut squash, capers, and pickles, and then riffed on what she’d create out of this stomach-turning combination. You know, like creating a sauce of “capers and anchovies with lemon and sugar.” Then she would “marinate the squash with the tart, salty combo, and panfry the . . . “
Puck knew where this was going: “I’m going to throw up.”
After a witty back and forth between Kasper and Puck, three non-chefs paired up with real ones from 20.21 to make meals with five mystery ingredients. People dispersed to mix and mingle, but when the curtain covering the floor to ceiling windows in The Cargill Lounge was lifted, and a breathtaking al fresco set up was revealed, guests headed outside for the wining and dining segment of the evening.
The scene was a truly a work of art, and Puck, as always, was a real piece of work.