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Since leaving Europe for a career in the US in 1974, Wolfgang Puck has gained two Michelin stars for his Beverly Hills restaurant Spago, opened more than 30 restaurants and has become the official caterer for the Academy Awards Governors Ball. A household name in the US, he has even cropped up in cameo roles in programmes such as Frasier. The opening of his steak restaurant Cut, which already has branches in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, at The Dorchester’s new hotel, 45 Park Lane, next year will mark his first foray into Europe. To get the lowdown on what to expect from the restaurant, we met up with Puck for a chat.
How long has this branch of Cut been in the pipeline?
We’ve been planning it for probably a year, year and a half. We’ve had people who have come to us in the past to do partnerships but it never felt right. With The Dorchester, I think it is the perfect mix – its customers and our customers are basically the same.
Was Cut always earmarked for the site?
I always though about Cut as [the concept] I wanted to expand. It is the one that fits best into The Dorchester to complement the other restaurants it has here – upmarket French (Alain Ducasse), upmarket Asian (China Tang) and upmarket British (The Grill at The Dorchester). People love it and they love good steak. We have people like David Beckham, Elton John, Michael Caine, who come to the restaurant regularly because it’s fun, it’s not stuffy ,and it has great steak.
With Daniel Boulud and Adam Perry Lang both arriving from the US to open restaurants this year, and with Cut and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market set to open next year, American chefs
are heading over the pond en masse. Why is this?
London is now very much an international city. Before, hotels used to run restaurants themselves. But it’s a better mix now; hotels need restaurants so why not have a restaurant run by a famous name that is more specialised, not with generic dishes like chicken consommé, steak béarnaise and club sandwich on the menu.
What is the concept behind the US branches of Cut?
When we decided to do a modern steak restaurant, we wanted it to be different. Some people have an idea of how a steakhouse should look – like a men’s club – but we made Cut more modern; we made it play interesting music and we made it a steakhouse with a twist. We decided to get meats from everywhere: from Japan, from Australia, from New Zealand and, of course, from the US. And even from the US, we source from Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho – lots of different places. It was almost like you would make up a wine list. So you could compare, say, the Wagyu beef from New Zealand against the Wagyu beef from Japan.
Do you source meat from Europe for the US Cuts?
No. But for the London branch, we will have meat from England, from Ireland, from Scotland, and from the rest of the world.
What tweaks will you make for the London branch?
We will have more seafood on the menu; seafood that will taste like it has come from the grill. We use charcoal, wood-burning grills so you get the charcoal on the meat and on the fish. The restaurant will be two storeys high, with a bar mezzanine level with big windows facing out on the park and where people can eat smaller things like pastrami sandwiches, a mini kobe burger or smoked salmon.
Apart from new branches in London and Singapore, do you have plans to open more branches of Cut internationally?
We are focused on making this a success, but if the opportunity arose in the right place in the right time and I have the right people to do it, I would definitely consider it.