A few of those little people crawled out of bed for an 8 a.m. press conference last Saturday to promote the selection of Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events as the exclusive caterer for the Indianapolis Museum of Art. They were rewarded with smoked salmon and caviar pizzas, as well as silky triangles of foie gras Puck had brought with him on the plane. It was a delicious foretaste of the dishes Puck hopes to serve at the 140-seat self-service café and 80-seat restaurant to open concurrently with the renovated museum in the spring of 2005.
Puck says he’s excited about how great food has made its way to the heartland. He credits the last three decades, which have seen an unprecedented expansion in Americans’ knowledge and appreciation of food.
While Puck has been at the forefront of this renaissance, he couldn’t have predicted it 30 years ago when he rode into Indianapolis on a Greyhound bus to work in the kitchen at La Tour, a job he took only with the stipulation that he would “never have to cook hamburgers and hot dogs.”
Indy diners ate more than ballpark food back in the ’70s, and they eat a lot more than that now, something Puck is very aware of. After appearing in the 500 Festival Parade, he made his way to dinner at Massachusetts Avenue hotspot Elements.
Years after he left Indianapolis, Austrian-born Puck would tell people who asked that he was from Indiana. And while they may have puzzled at his thick accent, he thinks fondly on his two years here.
A longtime lover of auto racing, Puck admits to a time when he told potential girlfriends he was a race car driver instead of a humble chef. Now that he doesn’t have to hide his true profession, he promises to visit the IMA restaurants often, thanking Hoosiers not only with his food but with his presence as well.