I looked over Wolfgang Puck’s shoulder as he whipped up a pizza in the kitchen of WP Kitchen + Bar Oct. 11. The famous chef behind Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., came to Charlotte for an evening event at his concept in Phillips Place.
On the schedule: a meet and greet with Puck benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank at WP Kitchen + Bar, his newest restaurant concept with a menu inspired by how he dines at home.
Puck spent the morning before the event teaching some local media members to make — and eat — pizza properly.
(1) Pair your pizza with wine.
“Food and wine is really the perfect marriage,” Puck said. “It really brings people together at the table.”
For your simple cheese pizza, he recommended a lighter red that’s not too expensive, and a little cool in temperature. For a more complex smoked salmon pizza, he proclaimed that Champagne was the best choice.
(2) Use six ingredients when making your own pizza dough.
“When I decided to make pizzas I said we have to make them a little different,” said the chef, who was born in Austria, got his culinary start in Europe and opened his first flagship restaurant, Spago, in West Hollywood in 1982. Haute cuisine pizzas with smoked salmon and caviar exemplified his signature dishes at Spago.
His preferred dough ingredients: Water, flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and a touch of honey, so the dough browns better.
(3) When baking a pizza at home, use a pizza stone.
Unless you have a handy dandy pizza paddle like the ones at WP. Don’t use a baking sheet — it cooks the pizza too quickly.
You know the crust is done when it has browned.
“I like it well done. … I like bread, pastries, everything cooked enough because the flour caramelizes and then it’s much better tasting,” Puck said.
(4) If you want to make his smoked salmon pizza, use these ingredients.
Thin the dough out by turning it in a circular motion with your hands (see time lapse above). Sprinkle thin slices of red onion on top. Bake until the crust is brown. Then add dill cream, slices of cold smoked salmon, and chives and caviar as garnish.
This is Puck’s favorite pizza style. “It has a perfect combination, the ying and the yang,” he said. “So you have the crispy dough, hot, warm, and then you have the dill cream which is good, and then you have a little salt in it and everything from the smoked salmon, and the smoked salmon is cold.”
(5) Always brush the side of your pizza crust with olive oil before serving.
“It looks good,” Puck said. (This is true.)
(6) Serve with a side of chili flakes or chili oil.
Puck said he always has chili flakes or chili oil on the side when he makes pizza at home, since his young kids aren’t into spicy pizzas — yet.
(7) Use the proper technique to enjoy a piece of pizza.
“The proper way, you eat it with your hands,” he said. “And then you look in somebody’s eyes and it will taste delicious.”
Photos: Katie Toussaint