Born in Austria, Wolfgang Puck headed to Los Angeles in 1975, and quickly acheived Hollywood celebrity— not as an actor, director, or producer, but as a chef and restaurateur. Now one of the most famous names in food, Puck is behind such top restaurants as Cut, WP24 and, of course, Spago, the spot that started it all. Puck has also opened casual eateries—you've seen them in airports—written cookbooks, sold cookware and prepared foods, and starred in Wolfgang Puck, a television series on the Food Network. In other words, Wolfgang Puck is what they call a brand. By one estimate, he is worth $75 million.
Puck has put some of this wealth toward philanthropy, and in fact, started a charitable vehicle all the way back in the early 1980s with his then-wife Barbara Lazaroff, called the Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation. Not surprisingly, one of the concentrations of Puck's philanthropy is food. For decades, the foundation hosted the annual American Wine and Food Festival to support Meals-on-Wheels programs of Los Angeles, raising more than $13 million through the years. These Meals-on-Wheels programs provided "a warm, nourishing meal every day to homebound individuals, primarily the elderly." Since Barbara and Puck divorced, Barbara has continued this work through the renamed American Wine & Food Festival Foundation for Meals-on-Wheels.
As for Puck, he's participated in the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival, which has raised money for Meals-on-Wheels, as well. A recent Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival raised $400,000 to support St. Vincent Meals-on-Wheels in Los Angeles.
Food isn't the only target of Puck's philanthropy. Decades ago, Puck and Barbara founded the annual California Spirit Event, which has raised millions of dollars to support the American Cancer Society. Puck has also supported other health outfits such as Alzheimer's Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Nevada Cancer Institute, Children's Diabetes Foundation, Race to MS, the Special Olympics, Cystic Fibrosis Society, and more. His foundation also supports the Animal Foundation in Las Vegas.
These days, Puck appears to be doing a lot of his work without a formal charitable vehicle. This makes the full scope of his philanthropy hard to get a handle on, and we may be leaving out some important gifts.
Related: Wolfgang Puck Profile