Guest Star Spotlight: Wolfgang Puck

by in Food Network Star, July 19, 2011
Wolfgang Puck Check out our on-set interview with this week's guest star, Wolfgang Puck.

At the Food Network Star dinner table this week sat a culinary icon: Wolfgang Puck, one of the first-ever "celebrity" chefs. We stole a few minutes with him to chat about everything from his favorite comfort foods to his own first on-camera experience. Jyll, don't sweat it — Wolfgang knows what it's like to be nervous!

What did you think about Wolfgang's impromptu risotto tutorial (and Jyll's response)?

Plus: Want more behind-the-scenes time with Wolfgang Puck? Check out Food Network Magazine's peek into his home kitchen.

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Comments (112)

  1. Isaac says:

    That was pretty harsh. I guess Jyll's risotto didn't taste awful? There was no comment on how it tasted just how it was supposed to look.

    I won't lie. When I saw Wolfgang Puck actually bring her into the kitchen in front of everyone and give her a lesson I cringed. I think I may have even cringed audibly. I don't know what I would have done but I give Jyll major credit for not crying on camera. And that's the Jyll people expect after seeing her say how she refused to cry on camera. I respect that. I don't like to bring it up but I'm sure if Alicia had been there and gotten the surprise lesson she probably would have broken down right there.

    I was absolutely surprised by the comments by the judges on how she looked fake. Of course she looked fake, she was blinking back tears and trying not to let that on. I get that they want her to show a little emotion and break the "newscaster" smile but how uncomfortable would you be watching someone who cries if something goes wrong or they get embarrassed?

    It just seems wrong. Obviously people made mistakes on their food. I kind of wish Jyll would have said "my family eats it this way" and politely refused. Though, then again, Wolfgang Puck demands a certain level of respect.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Same thing happened during Top Chef all-stars. Tre made a stiff risotto, the judgery was oh-so-offended, Tre explained that's what risotto was always like where he grew up and that his family liked it that way... and he was eliminated. Jyll was smart to keep a lid on it. You're not going to tell Wolfgang Puck anything and rebuffing him would be career suicide (as well as ungracious - as you said he's earned that level of respect regardless of whether you agree with his criticism. Or what you think of his frozen supermarket pizzas).

    • Food Lover says:

      Never have seen Bobby, Giada, Wolfgang cry in front of the camera.

  2. karen smith says:

    Wolfgang was inappropriate.........aren't there RULES for judge's behaviors? Not everyone makes a good judge..............Giada needs to go back to her kitchen. Bob and Bobby Flay really are good and fair.....they genuinely want to give good advice. Where's Michael Simon??? He's great. Maybe some of the judges have been doing this too long and seem entitled too. I can understand when they are trying to teach the contests about camera presentations...I just feel they can eliminate people without being so nasty. I agree that Susy and Giada's comments on Jyll's emotions were unwelcome. There are alot of different people watching the Food Network...you don't know what can touch viewers.

  3. beachinfrizzy says:

    I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing was scripted, or at least not the 'surprise' they made it out to be. Whenever WP is on Top Chef it's all about him, everyone hangs on his every word and he makes all these supposedly 'off the cuff' slams on the contestants' food that border on Hollywood Squares-levels of contrived. And then the entire room of kiss-up judges collapses into fits of fakety-fake laughter. Therefore it wouldn't surprise me at all if, as part of his agreement to grace this piddling cable network's game-show with his magnificent presence, Bob had to agree that at some opportune point Lord Puck would get to "grab the mic" and make himself the focal point of the episode at the expense of one of the poor unsuspecting wannabes. And Jyll just happened to be it. But, because he is also concerned about his image and does not want the act to be misconstrued thus making him a 'meanie', he then heaped praises on Jyll's composure, flying in the (bitch)faces of Susie and Giada's cattiness.

    • ChrisB says:

      "I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing was scripted, or at least not the 'surprise' they made it out to be."

      Thank you. The operative word in the above quote is SCRIPTED. NFNS is definitely scripted but not all the players are aware of their roles in this reality play. Jyll probably didn't realize that she would be pulled aside for a "risotto" lesson from Wolfgang Puck, but she handled the uncomfortable situation with all the gumption that she could muster. Judges Giada and Susie were armed for a major fail and looked foolish and petty when they couldn't praise Jyll for displaying courage under fire.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Yeah they looked downright angry about the whole thing, didn't they? Apparently Jyll breaking down was an assumption on their part but no one gave Jyll the memo or whispered in her ear "psst...this is the part where you dissolve into tears and run sobbing from the room". Instead it just made them look bad like you said. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall at the next staff meeting.

    • Food Lover says:

      If the show is "scripted", then they are going to need some new writers and at least one new editor (the one who missed the JC expletive). And at least on Hollywood Squares, some of the Celebrities could tell a good joke.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Good to see there are other posters who are 'old' like me and remember Paul Lynde et al on Hollywood Squares...back then they provided a disclaimer at the end of the shows admitting that the celebs were sometimes provided with their witty answers. Now it's all about taking any opportunity to make ME look good so I can promote MY next line of cookware or frozen foods. As for the JC? Eh. I'm a Christian, I say let Bobby explain it to his parish priest next time he takes Communion...as for the show allowing it if I find myself being repeatedly offended I just won't watch.

        • guest says:

          I am repeatedly offended by the insensitivity to Christian's on the networks. They cut out the f's etc. but leave in the GD's and the JC's. It is really offensive but they don't seem to care. I watch fewer and fewer of these shows because of it.

  4. English says:

    Chef Puck: On the chance you read these blogs, I want to compliment you for your response to judges Susie F’s and Giada’s reactions to Jyll’s impromptu cooking lesson. Susie F was highly critical of Jyll's actions and punctuated her comments with hand gestures and a toss of her head. Giada, the parrot she is whenever Susie F is at the table, agreed. They were confident you would support them. Surprise for them!

    • stillstanding says:

      Just watched this episode off the FN site, and a couple of things come to mind: Puck gave Jyll an “A” for maintaining a professional demeanor, and the female judges, in criticizing her for not showing upset, were really dismissing the opinion of their honored guest. Giada seemed especially disappointed that Jill had control of herself – to the point of disdain.

      On a related note, what’s up with the women wanting Susie to bare her soul about all she’s had to overcome? Did they ask Aunt Sandy to carry on about her hard knock life before the governor’s mansion? I suppose we’re all guilty of schadenfreude from time to time, but does the FN think that’s what drives us?

      I hear the judges saying that the contestants must show that they’re having fun, and that they need to cry and reveal painful life experiences. I remember the earliest days of tv, and Newton Minow calling it a vast wasteland in the spring of ’61. Minow still lives; I can only imagine what he says about tv today.

  5. Tidewaterbound says:

    I'm so glad to see others commenting exactly how I felt about this episode, that I commented on right after the show in an earlier blog. No matter what, Jyll, was amazing under fire with the poise and grace required when in the spotlight. She's been my choice since the initial episode.

    I also think they put Giada at the NFNS judging table because her show is failing so badly. To the poster who stated about how she speaks to the viewer as a pre-schooler is correct. Likely she needs to take a 20 year break and go back home. I cannot stand her, or Susie F.

    WP may have grinned throughout his performance but I felt his actions were highly demeaning. His only saving grace was his praise for Jyll's poise.

    The only good part of that episode was that PENNY finally was GONE!!!!!

    • ChrisB says:

      In her early years on FN, I enjoyed Giada's "Everyday Italian". I no longer watch her shows because they're no longer about food or cooking: It's all about Giada! And, now she's adding her offspring to the mix. I'm tired of the hair, the makeup, the big teeth, the decadent decolletes, and the haughty attitude. Time for FN to find someone else to cook Italian. Giada's burnt bruschetta.

      • MotorCityFoodie says:

        It seems that all the FN icons(Emeril, Rachael, Bobby and Giada) end up becoming caricatures of themselves. The bobblehead has run her course and can retire to her Malibu estate anytime. Her rudeness to the contestants in this competition is the last straw for me!

    • Food Lover says:

      Good comments. Totally agree. WPs comment were the lowpoint of the show and the female judges may need to go.

  6. Edilia says:

    Wolfgang Puck as the celebrity chef that he is, he knows how hard it is for a girl to be respected in a kitchen as a chef, and that is why he was happy with the reaction Jyll had about his evaluation. She has what it takes to be a professional, and did not break down in front of the judges like a lot of other ones would have. I was proud of her, good job Jyll!!!!

  7. Bob T says:

    Through all the commotion about Jyll's risotto not being "correct", I never heard anybody say if it tasted good or not. Sometimes it seems like judges get too hung up on a dish being cooked in the correct manner or calling it the correct name when maybe it's a bit of a stretch. How did it taste???

    I agree with what Stoutboy said "Jyll is not my favorite contestant, I'll be the first to say, but I have to hand it to her. Her reaction was cool, calm and collected. A very admirable performance."

  8. laura says:

    I slept through the entire epidosde on Sunday, but after reading these comments I can't wait to watch this episode. I totally agree that the judging sucks and that Gah-dah and Suzi keep giving conflicting information to the contestants. What is too funny is the fact that everything they criticize them for, the FN stars do the exact same thing. This channel has really gone to hell in a hand basket, in my humble opinion. I use to have the channel on all day long and looked for to Saturday and Sunday's viewing but that was a long time ago. They really need to change whoever is running the show and fast.

  9. Food Lover says:

    Always nice to feel empowered and proactive. Yes FN, us viewers do have choices past just changing the channel. This one is easy, I have lost all respect for Bobby, Giada, and Wolfgang and I am now boycotting all things produced by them. There are a lot of other shows to watch, restaurants to eat at, and cooking utensils to buy. I know my decision will probably have zero impact on them but who knows, maybe they'll get the message, acquire some humility and learn to respect the sensibilities of others. And had FN given Penny a show (and they still might), I would have banned them as well.

    Time to find those old "French Cooking" with Julia Child and "Yan Can Cook" reruns. Those "chefs" were real, they were humble, they were personable, they were good cooks, and they knew how to teach. Plus FN didn't produce them.

  10. Brenda says:

    I have been watching more shows on Public TV. You knowl, where it all started. I have just about had it with the FN. Too much competition. I have found some good stuff on the Cooking Channel. New and fresh stuff. Giada and Suzi, please do no become like Penny. She was just nasty.
    I will watch until the end, but having second thoughts about some other shows.

    • Food Lover says:

      Yes, I discovered the Cooking Channel just yesterday and even though it is owned by FN, it does have Julia Child and a past TNFNS contestant, who I like, Jeffrey Saad.

      • Brenda says:

        Absolutely great. He does better than some of the winners. I guess they have some ideas about talent.

      • luvcookin says:

        Not trying to be disagreeable, but the Food Network and The Cooking Channel are both owed by the Scripps Network. Also, a past contestant on Food Network Star, Kelsey Nixon, has a show on The Cooking Channel that is great! Love Jeffrey but really wish they would give him a different show where his cooking talents are showcased.

    • stillstanding says:

      Off of public TV, Primal Grill. This guy Raichlen is a trip, cooking in a laid back manner in the middle of grazing lands, with cattle strolling forth and back amongst the grills. Outstanding recipes and techniques, and highly entertaining.