Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Day at Classically Trained French Chef Wolfgang Puck's Cooking School!

This past Tuesday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend classically trained French Chef Wolfgang Puck's cooking school in Las Vegas! This one-day cooking class was held in Puck's first Italian Restaurant, Trattoria Del Lupo. Lupo offers an authentic Italian menu featuring "tastes from the old country" such as wood oven baked pizzas and freshly made pastas.  The restaurant features an open concept design to allow guests to view the wood pizza oven and the glass-enclosed area where the pasta is made daily.

I almost look like I know what to do in a kitchen! The chef's coat makes all the difference!

The class featured four cooking stations where we were instructed by four different Chefs on making pizza, risotto, soup and tiramisu.

At the first station  we were instructed on pizza making. I made my own pizza  (the dough ended up shaped like a squash instead of a traditional circle) and we cooked it in the wood fired oven above. The pizza oven makes all the difference in the crust!  We were given recipes for Lupo Pizza Dough, Marinara Sauce, Margherita Pizza, Artichoke and Eggplant Pizza and Lupo Potato Pizza. I made a basic Margherita pizza but added cooked garlic cloves and caramelized onions to it - It was delicious. I stood at the counter and ate most of it!

At the second station, Lupo's Executive Chef,  Eduardo Perez instructed us on making a classic risotto. Chef Perez made one basic risotto that he divided into three large saute pans. He then made a seafood, vegetable and mushroom risotto. The thing that I was surprised by was that Chef Perez uses HIGH heat to cook the risotto. (I think I'm always afraid of having the flame too high when cooking.) The cooking flame was so high that it encircled the pan and flamed up and around the sides.  I also learned to make a simple vegetable stock that can be added to risottos and soups.

Mushroom Risotto

Vegetable Risotto

On a personal level, Chef Perez's "story" enthralled me. Eduardo Perez was born and raised in Guatemala and began his career with Wolfgang Puck in 1986 working as the herb and vegetable gardener at Spago, Hollywood. After 8 months as the gardener, Perez applied for and was awarded the position of dishwasher, later moving on to work in other positions in the kitchen including pastry prep, bread baking, butchery, pizza making and "pantry." He went on to train under Executive Chef Joseph Monzare at Wolfgang Puck's Granite Restaurant in Malibu. In 193 he moved to Las Vegas to work as sous chef at the Wolfgang Puck Cafe' in the MGM Grand and later become banquet chef and then associate partner with the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. Today, Perez is the Executive Chef at Lupo and Associate Partner/Consulting Chef with the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group! As stated in his bio, "Eduardo Perez exemplifies the success of tenacious spirit!" From gardener to Executive Chef - what a great story!

Executive Chef at Trattoria del Lupo, Eduardo Perez

At the third station we watched the chef make 3 soups; Porcini Mushroom, Creamy Potato, and Butternut Squash.

The making of three cream based soups. Notice the large pan with the strainer to the far right of the chefs sleeve - this was a large pan of vegetable broth. For a basic vegetable broth, Lupo's chefs use celery, carrot, onion and leeks. This broth is added to many savory dishes.

Now the course that is my favorite - DESSERT! At this 4th and final cooking station, chef Kenneth Magna, Director of Pastry for all of Wolfgang Puck's Las Vegas Operations, demonstrated making a Tiramisu (means "Pick me up!")

Here Pastry Chef Kenneth Magana is whipping the egg yolk, sugar, vanilla and Marsala wine wth a balloon whisk.

My favorite part - tasting time! Needless to say I devoured all of my Tiramisu.

Now I'm almost embarassed to admit this - after the cooking class and eating over half of my pizza and all of my Tiramisu, we went into the lovely dining area of Lupo and ate a late lunch!

Life is good.

Au revoir, Mitty


  1. I'm sooooooooo jealous! What a cool experience.

    1. It was a cool experience! I sincerely rank it as one of the most educational, yet enjoyable AND delicious days I've spent in a kitchen!

  2. Wow!! Cynthia, I am also jealous! Have you tried the recipes on the family? Can't wait to hear about it!!

    1. Debbie, No I haven't tried any of the recipes yet. I plan on it though. I have a wonderful CHOCOLATE recipe I am going to try first which was sent to me by Christine (proprietor of the B&B in Provence where I stayed last year and took a cooking class.) I'll post my experience and end result just in case anyone would like to make it for Valentine's Day! Take care.