Luxe Life Blog
Wolfgang Puck receives James Beard’s Lifetime Achievement Award
The James Beard Foundation announced today that Las Vegas restaurateur and celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck, hailed for his contributions to the culinary industry, has been named the recipient of its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. Wolf will be honored at the Foundation Awards, which recognizes food and beverage industry professionals, at New York City’s Lincoln Center on May 7.
For the first time, the foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press brunch at the Venetian and Palazzo on March 19. Nominations will be posted simultaneously via Twitter @beardfoundation.
Each year, the Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon someone whose body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way the public eats, cooks and thinks about food in America.
“It recognizes passion, inspiration and a commitment to doing good work that goes beyond any individual’s contribution,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “This year, as we celebrate 25 years of the James Beard Foundation, I’m honored to commemorate Wolfgang Puck’s remarkable achievements in our industry.
“He is the only person to win Outstanding Chef twice,” Ungaro said. “Wolfgang has not only demonstrated to the industry his incredible talent, but he has helped shape the industry by revolutionizing how American chefs think about food.
“What sets Wolfgang apart, however, is that his creativity takes him beyond our industry’s walls. As a former Humanitarian Award recipient, he has shown that the culinary industry can improve the lives of others and benefit society as a whole. … We look forward to following his achievements in our industry and beyond for years to come.”
Wolf said, “Receiving the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award is a tremendous honor. It was a pleasure to be the first chef to cook at the Beard House, and my relationship with the foundation has been one I’ve cherished ever since.
“To be recognized by such a prestigious organization with this esteemed award could not have been possible without the talented individuals that I’ve had the pleasure to work with, mentor and befriend in my 30 years, including James. I take great honor in accepting an award that represents a lifetime of accomplishment for the work I take great pride in doing each and every day.”
Wolf has been a culinary icon for more than 30 years, and the celebrity he gained from his restaurant Spago, which opened in 1982, escalated him from fame to stardom. He became the first name-brand chef to open a restaurant in Las Vegas, Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, blazing a trail for other chefs and restaurateurs to follow.
Five more Las Vegas restaurants followed to critical acclaim. A longtime friend of mine, Wolf is a big supporter of our Keep Memory Alive galas that raise money for the downtown Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Today, Wolf has 20 fine-dining restaurants stretching around the world from Las Vegas to Singapore to London. Adding to his ever-growing empire based in Las Vegas and L.A. with Las Vegas partners Tom Kaplan, David Robbins, Joe Essa and Lee Hefter, the critically acclaimed steakhouse CUT debuted in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in 2006 and now includes outlets in the Palazzo and London.
Wolf has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards. In 1991, he became the first James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef honoree and to date is still the only person to be awarded that honor twice. He has received the foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Award for his Spago in Hollywood and has collected some of the foundation’s most notable honors, including induction into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America and the Humanitarian Award.
He also has been an honoree at the foundation’s Chefs & Champagne party in the Hamptons, has received five Restaurant and Chef awards and served as a James Beard Foundation Awards host in 2010.
It all represents a lifetime of achievement from a man whose motto is, “Do what you love. Work hard. Be patient. And, with a little luck, you could succeed.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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