By Vernon Nickerson
Can we all agree Wolfgang is a hetero-rock god’s first attempt at a reflection that strongly hints at the tell-all memoir that I predict audiences will crave after watching an epic plate of delicious small bites, tastefully delivered like all of Alexander Wolfgang Puck’s culinary arts masterworks? Well, gentle readers, we cannot have that conversation to agree or disagree unless you all go to Disney+ and watch this fine film from the creative juggernaut of Director David Gelb and Writer Brian McGinn, as soon as you finish reading this review.
The consistent and compelling non-pareil appetizer is summed up by a simple, yet elusive in less-skilled hands, formula: One rich narrative taking us on a funhouse ride of food history from right after WWII to the present day + great writing and directing from Gelb and Mc Ginn = the film known as “Wolfgang”. Wolfgang Puck is a German national with a “Loki/Puckish” charisma. We love his looks, his charm, and the food he creates for our gustatory delight and sensory orgasmic satisfaction. The film smartly leaves you wanting to know and eat more from the man who made Joan Collins an impromptu smoked salmon and caviar pizza. A single pizza that changed culinary arts forever.
Who knew that the man who lives to cook for others was also apparently a wise and witty soul? Consider this sampling of quotable quotes:
“I realized that all this time, I wasn’t running away from anything. I was going after the thing I loved to do.”
“Nothing comes easy, but giving up is not an option.”
Wolfgang is a peek into no less than four different families: 1.Puck’s Forebears, 2, Wolfgangs running away to pursue his life’s work, 3. the first family where he got to be a father, and 4.) his third marriage and a second chance at becoming a father. There is even the bonus dish regarding his culinary family of choice and circumstance. We see what happens when one escapes a life of incessant xenophobia, misogyny, shunning and shaming against illegitimate children, prejudice, fear, ignorance, lies, scams, bullying, etc* Those asterisked items are were all in the “hell” he escaped from and never looked back. The overarching narrative of “Wolfgang” is Wolfgang Puck as an archetype of “genius/exceptionally talented young man who escapes hell to live his best life”.
Wolfgang is a family-centered movie that allows the audience to derive empowerment and inspiration from its narrative of a fascinating life lived as a master culinary artist in performance of a life lived mostly in the public’s piercing gaze but never fully seen without this filmed “behind the music of fine cuisine”. As such it is packed full of life lessons:
Remember to treat other people kindly and respectfully.
Hold fast to dreams and follow your passions in some way every day.
Be more laser-focused and more mindful in everything you do with someone else and or for someone else.
Give yourselves permission to say right where you are— I am okay, even when circumstances strongly suggest otherwise. The most powerful part of the narrative comes from Puck’s family of choice and biology.While he is also a teaching/coaching chef, Wolfgang Puck has the good fortune to have learned how to be a better father after the wake-up call of a divorce after 19 years of marriage. “Wolfgang” shows you what is possible when children are given the love and support they need to figure out what their passions are. The film shows what amazing things happen when we do things that drive our passions. In the story of “Wolfgang”, we see what happens when you serve your best life by feeding people who “Eat, Pray, Love!”.
Go see this film, hold fast to your dreams, and write back and let us know how it all works out in your life. One can only hope “Wolfgang” is a mere prelude to a juicy tell-all memoir that details the who, what, when, where how, and why of the delectable smorgasbord that apparently is Alexander Wolfgang Puck’s day-to-day lived experience. So if you didn’t know, now your knowing begins.