There takes a certain something to be a celebrity chef…more than just highly honed cooking skills and knowledge of fine ingredients. I’ve met several starry chefs over the past year who possess so much charisma and passion, there’s not only a love of food but a true warmth and hospitality. Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck is perhaps one of the most famous chefs in the USA and it’s easy to see why. Not only is his food incredible but he is also so friendly and personable that you can see why he is loved by so many people.
By coincidence it was the day that Wolfgang (Wolf to his friends) was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that I would be heading to his UK restaurant, CUT at 45 Park Lane. Only the second ever chef to receive such an honour, the accolade is a true testament to his status as an icon. Possessing around 70 restaurants, CUT is his only European outlet and would also be the first in Europe to serve Snake River Farms’ American Wagyu beef. We would be starting off the evening by sampling some ‘rough cuts’ which appear on the starter section of the a la carte menu at CUT at 45 Park Lane. These mini wagyu beef sliders introduced the Snake River Farm Beef to myself and other members of the press.
Steak tartare showcased the meat in its purest form without any outside char…
We also got a chance to try the spicy tuna tartar cones, which have long been a staple on the menu at 45 Park Lane. And before the beef sampling, a quick word about the hotel itself which is part of The Dorchester Collection. The hotel is the younger, slightly cooler cousin to the grand dame that is The Dorchester, it’s more modern with slick metallics, wooden walls and sumptuous leather seats. A much more clubby, contemporary feel to the traditional original which is located just opposite.
Super stylish, 45 Park Lane is the perfect location for Wolfgang Puck’s sexy restaurant, CUT which already had branches in Vegas and Beverley Hills. While on honeymoon I also visited Wolfgang’s two Michelin starred flagship restaurant, Spago, so it’s safe to say I’d already fallen in love with his food.
In the comfort of the hotel’s media room, executive chef David McIntyre explained the different cuts taken from the cow before presenting us with a look at the meat that they use in the restaurant.
You may remember me explaining a little about wagyu which actually means Japanese cow and in my post about Ukai-Tei I wrote in detail about how this cattle produces meat with the most exquisite marbled fat. American producers, such as Snake River Farms, have been able to replicate this incredible meat by cross-breeding Japanese cattle with continental cows. The result has been named American Wagyu, also known as ‘Kobe-style’ steak as the appellation ‘Kobe’ can only be used to describe cattle actually raised in the Kobe region of Japan.
The picture above illustrates the difference between the different origins of the cattle. On the far left is South Devon Angus from the South West of England, as you can see this beef has very little marbling and a high ratio of meat. The beautifully marbled meat in the centre is Snake River Farms wagyu, produced in Idaho, and the far right is the very highest quality, Wagyu Kagoshima Beef from the Kyushu Prefecture in Japan. An eight ounce rib eye of this final beef costs £140 at CUT in comparison to a twelve ounce rib eye of British beef for £49.
Next it was time to taste and from right to left we sampled beef from Darling Downs in Queensland, the Snake River Farms product from Idaho, and the Creekstone farms American wagyu from Kansas. Of the three, the Snake River Farms was the clear winner and I’m not just saying the because I was sat at a table with the producers. Now you may be wondering how it compares to wagyu from Japan, which we weren’t served that night. Having sampled it several times whilst in Japan I found it easy to make a comparison. Japanese wagyu will always be the very finest, the high ratio of the fat means it has a melt-in-the-mouth texture and taste are absolutely sublime. However, it is incredibly rich and you can only really eat a small amount until you feel very full; by comparison the American meat is much easier to eat though it doesn’t quite have the buttery tenderness, the taste is still incredible and you can enjoy eating it without getting serious indigestion.
Along with the steak, we sampled some of the side dishes which are regulars on the menu at CUT. I absolutely loved the heirloom tomato salad with Neal’s Yard Goat’s curd, onion, anchovies and basil.
The delicious steak sashimi, also from Snake River Farms, which came with spicy radishes and greek cress.
Herby french fries were crisp and moreish.
And a Szechuan hanger steak, was a great example of an alternative way of preparing the Snake River Farms beef. I didn’t managed to get a photo but we were also served a hearty cavatappi pasta mac & cheese, sweet corn succotash and a lighter side of snow peas.
Along side all these incredible dishes we were also treated to Wolfgang Puck Cabernet Sauvignon and Wolfgang Puck Chardonnay, Wolfgang’s own wine label produced in California. Charity is important to Wolfgang and for every bottle of wine sold, 50 cents goes to the Keep the Memory Alive Association. The chef lost his mother to Alzheimer’s in 2004 and he has long supported the charity, holding their inaugural dinner at Spago, Las Vegas.
And before dessert was served Wolfgang himself entered the media room, a friendly and sociable person, yet clearly still down to earth despite his huge success.
Born in Austria, Wolfgang’s mother taught him how to cook but having moved to the USA aged 24, that’s where he spent the majority of his life. It was Wolfgang that realised the great potential for Californian cuisine and was instrumental in its rise. Spago opened in 1982 and CUT at the Beverley Wilshire in 2006, consistently breaking new ground in the American restaurant industry. He created a new cuisine by fusing formal French techniques with Asian and Californian cuisine and changed the face of fine dining by modernising it. He now has fine dining restaurants across the USA as well as bistro and fast casual restaurants across the world.
Wolfgang has made many film and television appearances including The Simpsons and The Smurfs movie; he was the chef at Kim Kardashian’s wedding and his favourite food is macaroons. He is also credited with creating the smoked salmon pizza at Spago.
Dessert was a duo of English strawberries and lime meringue with Chantilly cream and strawberry sorbet and a banana cream pie with chocolate sauce and bananas foster ice cream.
The meat at CUT at 45 Park Lane is quite simply some of the best I’ve tasted in London, and I would highly recommend heading down to check out the selection from Snake River Farms. As for Wolfgang, it was an honour to meet him and I look forward to trying more of his restaurants.
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CUT at 45 Park Lane
45 Park Lane
0207 493 4554
I attended CUT for a media dinner