(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

In the 1970s, being a chef was a blue-collar job. The owner of a restaurant might be known, but not the chef. Food in the United States was fairly terrible (think TV dinners). Puck changed that. For example, he apparently invented the Asian chicken salad. He also started the whole celebrity chef/food show culture. As he laments early in the film over a small watermelon, the world is speeding up for him.

How did he do this? After being a chef in France, Puck came to Los Angeles to Ma Maison, which had a terrible reputation. He worked to get fresher and higher ingredients, and also looked for new ways to prepare them. The film reveals more of the stress between Puck and Ma Maison owner Patrick Terrail (who claims Ma Maison's rise to success was his doing, rather than Pucks).

Puck left Ma Maison over this conflict and opened Spago's in Los Angeles. Spago's was the first serious restaurant to have an open kitchen. Spago's customers were notable people in the film industry, and Spago's also seated them based on status. After Spago's in Los Angeles came media appearances, more restaurants, packaged food, and so on. It is almost a cliché that he wants to spend more time with his family, but that seems to turn into more time teaching his son Byron to be a chef. (What about his other sons? This seems more predicated on spending time with his family professionally than as family.)

The film ends with a bunch of platitudes: follow your dreams, do what you love, etc. Puck says that success in the restaurant business is just, "You start with the best product and then you don't screw it up." And rather than people who said he wanted to change jobs because the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, he observes, "The grass is greener where you water it the most."

Released 06/25/21 on Disney+. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

Film Credits: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11146690/reference

What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wolfgang_2021

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2021 Mark R. Leeper