Wolfgang Puck on His Healthy Transformation: ‘I Didn’t Know I Was That Fat!’
Courtesy Wolfgang Puck;Robin Marchant/Getty
He might be known for his fancy food and Oscar parties, but Wolfgang Puck has some advice for all of us on portion control: “You only should eat as much so you can go home, make love and not fall asleep,” he tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview.
Sounds like a pretty good motivator for not overindulging.
Puck is pictured above in a 15-year-old photo with the late radio personality Andy Moes, who died of heart failure in 2001. (Puck admits that the two shared a love of good food.) Since then, the chef has had plenty of experience in the lifestyle-overhaul department: As the author of new book Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy, he was inspired to write about his experience losing 25 pounds and starting a new exercise regime.
As it is for many who gain weight, the pounds crept on slowly. “Working in the kitchen is a hazard because you can eat and drink whatever you want, and I didn’t realize how much I was eating until my clothes weren’t fitting me,” he says. When a friend snapped a picture of him asleep on the beach, Puck knew
he had to act. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ, I didn’t know I was that fat!’”
Not willing to sacrifice flavor in his quest for healthier food, Puck began developing new recipes with fewer calories and less fat. The pizza recipe he shares below has a crust that’s made with a mix of whole wheat and regular flour. For toppings, he uses just four ounces of prosciutto for the entire pie and supplements it with arugula and melon, low-calorie foods that are filling because they’re high in fiber.
Before serving, he drizzles the finished pizza with aged balsamic vinegar, one of his favorite pantry staples. “We all love it in my house, even my kids, and the acidity and sweetness will enhance pretty much any dish,” he says.
Of course, Puck cautions that even the healthiest diet won’t work if you don’t work out: “There’s really no excuse for not exercising and you don’t need to go the gym with all those big machines — I put a mat on my floor and jump rope, do my push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, all right in my living room.”
One of Puck’s favorite things about slimming down has been getting back to doing what he loves outside the kitchen. “Now I can go skiing with my older boys again and beat them on the slalom. I can play tennis on Maui for an hour in the heat without sitting down. So now I’m 64 years old and I ski better and play better tennis than 15 years ago,” he said.
Watch our exclusive interview with Puck, then dig into his prosciutto pizza — with zero guilt!
Courtesy Wolfgang Puck
Whole wheat yeast dough (recipe below), formed into 4 equal balls
½ cup light sun-dried tomato pesto
1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and thinly sliced
4 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced
½ cup melon, cut into ¼-inch cubes (optional)
½ cup packed baby arugula leaves
2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
1. Place a pizza stone or baker’s tiles on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Dip a ball of dough into flour and shake off excess.
3. Place the ball on a clean, lightly floured surface and start to stretch it out, pressing down on the center and spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle with a slightly thicker rim. (If you find this difficult, use a small rolling pin to help, and then pinch up the rim.) Repeat with other dough balls.
4. Brush each circle with the pesto, staying within the rim. Evenly distribute the fresh mozzarella slices on top.
5. Using a floured pizza paddle or rimless baking sheet, transfer the pizzas to the stone or tiles. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust is nicely browned, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and drape the prosciutto on top.
6. Dot the prosciutto with melon cubes, scatter the arugula leaves on top and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
7. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into slices. Serve immediately.
Whole Wheat Yeast Dough
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1½ cups lukewarm (80°F) water
1 tbsp. honey
1¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1¾ cups whole wheat flour, divided
1½ tbsp. kosher salt
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and stir together the yeast, water, and honey until the yeast has dissolved.
2. Stir in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour just until a soft, loose dough forms. Cover with a clean towel and set aside for 20 minutes, ideally in a warm room.
3. Add the remaining all-purpose and whole wheat flours (¾ cup of each), salt and olive oil to the loose dough. Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook and mix on the second-lowest speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing on medium speed until the dough looks well-developed and elastic, 8-10 minutes more.
4. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
5. If making pizza, divide the dough into 4 equal balls. On a floured work surface, work each ball with clean hands by pulling down all around its sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball, repeating this four or five times to form an even, compact ball.
6. On a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under your palm until its top feels firm and smooth, about 1 minute. Cover the balls with a damp towel and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes. (If desired, you can wrap the balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Remove from the refrigerator and let the dough come to room temperature before using.)