Wolfgang Puck unveils online cooking school

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has built an empire on not only feeding people at his restaurants around the world, but also on teaching people how to cook.

During a visit to his namesake restaurant, Wolfgang Puck Steak at MGM Grand Detroit, in November, Puck told local media of his plans for an online cooking school. Friday, the restaurateur and cookbook author returned to Detroit to announce the details of his new website, wolfgangpuckcookingschool.com .

“This is really a live version of a cookbook,” Puck said Friday. “The content can grow immensely. Maybe three years from now we’ll have 1,000 recipes.”

Puck is answering the call of people using mobile devices more to read, rather than paper books.

“The visual is so important in cooking. We not only want the dish to taste good, but also look good.”

The online school is designed to teach novice chefs and fine-tune the skills of experts, too. The school has a library of recipes, and users can add their own recipes from the family recipe box. A subscription also includes meal-planning tools and cooking courses that are added weekly.

Users have access to an online community where members can communicate through forums, submit their own recipes and win prizes. There’s also an opportunity to interact directly with Wolfgang and have their recipes featured in some capacity.

“I want it to be as interactive as possible,” he said. “I’m very interested in what people say and what people think.”

Puck’s school, which launched Monday, is offering a 14-day free trial. After that, the membership fee is $9.95 per month, or $99.50 for a year.

In one video, for example, Puck, who isn’t shy about kidding around and cracking jokes, explains the tools, techniques and timing needed to create the perfect poached egg. He gives insight as to what to add to the water (vinegar, salt), how to drop the egg in and how long to wait. The Austrian-born chef’s chatty and positive personality shines through during the two-and-a-half-minute video.

Puck says he chose to unveil the details of the Wolfgang Puck Cooking School at his MGM Detroit restaurant because of his success in the city with his MGM restaurants. He says that Detroit is going to be a “culinary center.”

“I want (to help) people to cook better and help to cook healthier at home.”



Celebrity online school biz growing

Wolfgang Puck isn’t the only celebrity with membership-based online tutorials for fans. Masterclass.com gives online lessons for singers, athletes, writers, actors and others who want to learn from the best. The online education company charges $90 per course for lessons from Usher, author James Patterson, Dustin Hoffman or Serena Williams. Courses taught by Kevin Spacey, Christina Aguilera and Annie Leibovitz are on deck.

According to a New York Times story published in September, more than 30,000 people had signed up for the classes since launching in May.