Even Wolfgang Puck Was Initially Stumped By Peking Duck

Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck - Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
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If you've ever felt frustrated trying to master a new skill in the kitchen, you are not alone. In the early 1980s, when Wolfgang Puck was an up-and-coming chef in Los Angeles, he struggled with how to master his version of a dish that would soon become a specialty in his restaurant empire, Peking Duck. The young chef had launched his first restaurant Spago, with its unique California style, and was at the forefront of a movement that explains how fusion cuisine became so popular with a new restaurant called Chinois On Main in Santa Monica. As part of a rapid-fire question set with Modern Luxury Angeleno, Puck even admits he "threw away over 50 ducks" before he was able to get the duck recipe just right.

Spago was an instant hit, packed with VIP clients from the first days the restaurant opened and launching Puck's meteoric career. It might seem hard to imagine this legendary chef being stumped but tenacity and focus on technique are how reputations are earned in the kitchen. Fortunately for us, Puck was persistent, testing duck after duck to get the method just right. The same fortune and persistence have expanded Puck's culinary empire through decades of change in the restaurant industry as well.

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Puck Is Legendary For Innovation And Longevity

Spago marquee
Spago marquee - Dion Yap/Shutterstock

The number of restaurants that Wolfgang Puck owns around the world showcases just how experienced and talented Puck has become. Puck's restaurants include the venerable Chinois On Main, which still serves a version of lacquered Chinese-inspired duck. Puck's reinvention of this classic Chinese dish with French and California influences was a culinary milestone that launched Asian-fusion dishes onto menus throughout Los Angeles and eventually the entire country.

Traditionally, Peking Duck involves roasting a whole duck until the skin is crispy and golden, serving it with thin pancakes, hoisin sauce, and sliced scallions. Puck's version took this timeless dish to new heights by introducing a contemporary twist. Instead of the traditional pancake, Puck opted for a flour tortilla, creating a fusion of Chinese and Mexican culinary elements. The result was a flavor-packed, cross-cultural experience that delighted diners and showcased Puck's ability to reimagine traditional dishes.

Today you'll see Puck's duck in soft bao buns, on salads, and many other innovative plates at his restaurants. There's no sign this chef is done being persistent in the kitchen as his innovations continue to delight at large events and new pop-up experiences around the world.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.