Monday, May 11, 2009

Wolfgang Puck at Sam's Club

You know, it's tough having kids in LA. Lugging around a carseat with a fat baby in it for 15 minutes while hubby tries to find parking in near 90 degrees weather is tough. And thinking you're ready to leave for a gig but having the baby barf all over your clothes at the last minute is tough. Such was my morning on the way to interview Wolfgang Puck at the El Monte Sam's Club grand reopening. Have you ever been to Sam's Club or Costco on a weekend? Try a grand reopening. Well, I'll just leave it at that.

You probably know Wolfgang Puck as the celebrity chef who caters to the stars on Oscar night or as the owner of famed restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills.I was given a grand opportunity to meet with the renowned chef while he was there promoting his cookbook, knife set, and cookware set. I was very happy I got my questions in, although the questions had nothing to do with any of the products he was promoting.

Me: Hi, I'm so and so with a locally based food blog. Can I ask you a few questions regarding your food products?

I left out the name of my blog because he'd probably look at me like I was nuts if he heard Shaved Ice Sundays.

Wolfgang: Sure.

Me: I was actually curious as to how you decided to go from Spago and catering to marketing food in a warehouse setting like Sam's.

Wolfgang then told me that he actually got the idea from those times when his patrons took food from his restaurants home.

I was thinking "really?" I thought that it would have been a bit more complex if he had had a revelation in his dreams or something from the Sam's Club gods.

Me: So Sam's didn't approach you at all with this idea?

Wolfgang told me it actually was his idea to approach Sam's Club.

Me: Can you tell me what the involved steps are when it comes to going from having this idea in your head to actually getting the finished product marketed and out to the people?

I guess Wolfgang did not want to go into a lengthy answer regarding all the nuisances that goes into creating a frozen food product, but he told me that being in the restaurant business, he has so many connections that it was an easy process to get it done.

Me: In the planning stages of creating a recipe for a frozen food product, do you have to take into special consideration the various ingredients and whether the quality would withstand the freezing process and packaging process? Do you feel like you ever have to compromise?

Again, I was thinking he'd come up with some foo foo answer, but he gave a very honest answer that surprised me, stating that he always tries to use the best quality ingredients possible in coming up with something and then hopes for the best when it goes through the process. He states that essentially you never know until you try it.

Me: I would get your book and knife set but I actually don't have a membership to Sam's.

Wolfgang asking a Sam's Club guy nearby, "Do you need a membership to purchase these?" The guy answers yes. Wolfgang says that someone can help me get a membership. I did not have time to wait in the huge line to get a membership, but I really wanted to get a signed cookbook for a giveaway drawing for my loyal readers. You know who you are. Of course, I couldn't let this chef get away without a photo with yours truly, and so I offer and he accepts kindly.

Me: Thank you so much for answering my questions!

Wolfgang: You're welcome, my dear.

I was very impressed with how this world famous celebrity chef was so down to earth and really didn't mind that I dragged him away from his commercial duties to talk to a foodblogger who mind you, is not even a year in the making. Thank you to the folks at Sam's Club for making this happen and for making Wolfgang so accessible, no matter how short a time. I'm just so glad that a little baby barf didn't stop me.


EatTravelEat said...

WOW! I was first expecting after seeing the title a post on Wolfgang's frozen food products. But I was wrong!

I definitely would have not expected Wolfgang Puck to visit somewhere that is so close to me and yet at a Sams Club too! (sorry for the many exclamations) You were very lucky to have this opportunity :).

The new Sams Club looks great! I remember going to it back when it was its old self, and the new Sams Club definitely looks better than it was before in many different ways.

Tangled Noodle said...

How nice to have met him and he seemed so willing to answer your questions. Thanks for sharing!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

How cool is that? Who knew Wolfgang Puck would be so nice?

Poor little baby. Hope he's feeling better.

SinoSoul said...

WTF... Wolfing in the (626). Awesome. Tho he hates bloggers n whatnot..

Unknown said...

What a fantastic post. I've always likes Wolfgang (and his recipes), but now I like him even more. How wonderfully gracious he was!

Anonymous said...

Great article, but next time it might be a good idea to bring a recorder with you to capture the conversation so you don't have to paraphrase their answers...

shavedicesundays said...

EatTravelEat, it was so crazy that day at the grand opening. There were fire trucks and police cars and booths. Fun.

Tangled Noodle, you're very welcome!

WC, R is definitely better. It was just that morning for some reason.

SinoSoul, you comment made me chuckle. What do you mean about him hating bloggers? Did you hear something I didn't?

ButterYum, yes he was very patient with everyone who approached him. I've never tried any of his recipes, but maybe I should check them out now.

Anonymous, I actually had a video recorder with me but everything went so quickly I didn't even have time to pull it out. I realize that I'd forget if I didn't write it down, so I wrote down everything as soon as I got in my car. But thanks for the tip and for stopping by.

Food For Tots said...

How lucky of u to have a personal interview with the celebrity chef! R u going to cook any of his recipes and share with me?

imjustatree said...

that's cool! were you some journalism major in college? =) can't believe he was at a sam's club, promoting his stuff. that's pretty funny. and if u didn't have a membership, howd u get in?

shavedicesundays said...

Food For Tots, if I see anything good, I might try out his recipes and let you know!

Sawyer, why'd you change your name? Journalism major? Not even close. I just told them I was there for the interview and they got some people to come over and they let me in!

Smokeydoke said...

Awesome! Good for you! I'm really impressed. And you're right, it was cool of him to talk to you. He's scored some points with me. Now I want to meet him.

shavedicesundays said...

Smokeydoke, thanks for the comment. Maybe I should have given a heads up to everyone that he was gonna be there because you could certainly just walk up and say hi.

joanh said...

that is so cool!!!! it's great that you weren't hesitant to chat with him and nice that he didn't blow you off.

shavedicesundays said...

joanh, i was expecting the worst, but it was all good.