Picks and Pans Review: Spago Cooking with Wolfgang Puck

updated 11/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Damn the calories and the cholesterol! Cooking with Wolfgang is like frolicking in a vat of whipped cream and liking it. Puck is the peach-faced proprietor of Spago, Hollywood's hillside eatery that welcomes Shirley MacLaine, Michael Douglas, Johnny Carson and Swifty Lazar when they are hungry. Wolfgang loves his celebrated clientele, but he loves butter more. And cream. And white truffles. And marbled prime beef. This 63-minute video is more like a playful romp in a world without heartburn than a how-to. "The secret to my cooking is buying the best ingredients and trying not to screw them up," says Puck, as he plows through his marketplace pinching fish (look for clear eyes and firm flesh) and popping Chinese green beans into his mouth ("If you don't know exactly what it is, just taste it"). What!? You don't keep a blowtorch in your kitchen for burnishing the sugary crust on your crème brulée? Wolfgang does. In each of the cooking segments, ranging from appetizers to desserts, a showbiz personality takes instruction at Puck's side. Thus, he sizzles shrimp with Kate Capshaw, pounds pizza with Cristina Ferrare, boils a bloody wine sauce with Vincent Price, sears veal with Joel Grey and whips up a chocolate soufflé with Robert Townsend. The stars are mere garnish, however, since Puck the perfectionist is clearly in command. His joy is infectious as he makes it look easy, usually using his fingers instead of measuring spoons. This is not a tape for neophytes. Puck moves like a whippet; his instructions are sometimes skewed by his Dr. Ruth accent, and his 15 recipes appear on the screen only after the concoction has been prepared. (A week of bread and water to executive producer Andrew Freirick, who failed to include a recipe booklet.) Some cooks will find this video more entertaining than practical, but never mind. Just watching Wolfgang can be delicious. (Warner Home Video, $29.98)

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