Wolfgang Puck Opens Up About Leaving Home to 'Escape' His Difficult Childhood with His Stepfather

"As a kid, the kitchen was the only place where I felt safe," says the Austrian chef

Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck. Photo: Paul Archuleta/Getty

Wolfgang Puck didn't have an easy life with his stepfather.

In a new interview with our sister publication People en Español, the famed Austrian chef, 72, spoke about his difficult relationship with his stepfather, which is also discussed in his new Disney+ documentary Wolfgang.

Opening up about how he got started in cooking, Puck said that he wanted "to leave my home as soon" as possible "to get away from him."

In his late teens, he ended up working in Villach, a nearby town about an hour away from his family in Austria.

"I went there and I think it was mainly to escape my stepfather. Yes, I liked cooking but I didn't know that that was going to be my life," he explained. "So for me it was more an escape at first."

Wolfgang Puck
Claire Steinberg

In the documentary, Puck goes into additional detail about his "really rough" life with his stepfather, a coal miner.

"As a kid, the kitchen was the only place where I felt safe," he said. "[My stepfather] terrorized us. He would say, 'You're lazy, you are good for nothing. His voice really got into my head."

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"I remember being 8-9 years old he would come home drunk and say 'You go in the forest and pick your stick.' I felt like something in my insides was shrinking," he added. "And I said you know, I want to get out of here."

His happier memories revolve around cooking with his mom and grandmother, making some of his favorite dishes like potato leek soup and schnitzel.

"We didn't have the money to buy veal, so we used pork. The smell of it, I can smell it even today," he recalled to People en Español. "The good childhood memories balance out with my stepfather, which were the bad ones."

Puck clearly overcame his childhood challenges and became one of the most celebrated chefs in the world. For more on his rise to fame, watch Wolfgang, currently streaming on Disney+.

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