|BY JULIETTE ROSSANT|
Is Wolfgang Puck using his ex-wife's money to pay for his wedding?
From People Magazine to the former host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Robin Leach, in his online Las Vegas column, the Media was watching Wolfgang Puck this weekend. After all, it was a time for weddings as comes around, oh, maybe once in a century. Wolf was on the island of Capri, Italy, marrying Gelila Assefa, girlfriend and mother of two of his sons. They exchanged wedding vows at 7:00 PM on 07/07/07.
According to Mr. Leach, guests came from all over the world: Australia, Thailand, Austria, Ethiopia, and America.
Mr. Leach notes that many of Wolf's co-workers were present:
Among those making the 8,000 mile round trip from Vegas was his restaurant executive team of Tom Kaplan, David Robins and Joe Essa.... Wolf’s executive chef partner Lee Hefner from Spago, Los Angeles who will be opening Wolf’s new CUT restaurant in the new Venetian Palazzo resort early next year was also in the wedding group.This sounds more like a public relations opportunity for CUT than a wedding.
With all those partners and staff members on hand, the question is: will Wolf try to write off the wedding as a business expense?
And, if he does, won't that involve monies from ex-wife, still-current business partner and Puck empire co-founder, restaurateur, architectural designer, WCR co-founder, and mother of two more Puck sons, Barbara Lazaroff?
Why the media hype for a third wedding?
As Super Chef has noted in the past, much of mainstream Media seems to be getting sloppier and cheaper when it comes to fact checking (see previous article "Forbes Celebrity Chefs 2007: Food Network Heaven").
The story of Gelila Assefa's love affair with Wolf seems to have received some pretty heavy PR treatments, with little or no no fact checking. Check out the article in Harper's Bazaar about "Ethiopian-born designer Gelila Assefa" or another at Entertainment Tonight that uses the most common descriptor "handbag designer."
Look at the reports from this wedding. People states, "Puck and Assefa, 38, met in Los Angeles, where Puck first established Spago 25 years ago and where Assefa was studying." Mr. Leach states, "Wolf met the hotel public relations executive when he moved into the Peninsula Hotel in Beverley Hills following the breakup of his long marriage to designer Barbara Lazaroff."
Yet Mr. Leach's online reports have received a flurry of comments from critics that challenge either People's or his pretty pictures.
An anonymous commenter who was "at Wolf’s second wedding" on Mr. Leach's latest article states:
Gelila Assefa was answering the phones at Spago in 1997 and was NEVER a PR Exec at the Peninsula Hotel... She was sleeping with a very married Wolfgang Puck back then. She’s been written up for many professions but never the 'oldest' one... dig deeper like a good journalist and write that story. Many of us know it...Commenters on a previous Leach article published on another website continue in the same vein:
Muna Deriane wrote:It seems there is quite a story behind the Puck-Lazaroff divorce that led to the Puck-Assefa wedding. Perhaps it was not quite as amicable as first reported (see The New York Times.)
Let's not forget that when Wolf and Barbara celebrated their wedding very publicly back in 1984 at Oustau de Baumaniere, Robin Leach broadcast it on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (see Super Chef [Simon & Schuster 2004], pp. 7-48, wedding p. 17, summary of Barbara's contribution, pp. 46-47). Mr. Leach's broadcast helps explain the irate comments on his recent articles. In any case, it seems safe to assume, then, that when Barbara divorced Wolf back in 2003, Mr. Leach wound up in the Wolf camp of friends.
As Michael Douglas once dished out deliciously as the dastardly Gordon Gecko in Wall Street (1987), "Greed clarifies, cuts through," so let's cut down towards the bottom line and examine deeper. At the heart of "l'Affaire Assefa" lies "Wolfgang Puck" – the brand, not the person. The problem Puck and fellow super chefs face is that their brands are based on them as personalities. Puck's corporate mantra "Live! Love! Eat!" (or is it now "Eat! Love! Live!"?) is light-hearted and family-friendly, whereas those in Puck's circles seem to know all too well that Puck's life with Gelila have not been very family friendly.
Perhaps Wolf's marriages should warn chefs and restaurateurs: never mix business with pleasure. Particularly since, as one commenter ("PeopleWatcher") archly wrote, "...The greatest chapter is yet to be written because just as Wolf cheated on his second wife, so will he cheat on his third..."
CBS News, Entertainment Tonight, People, Reuters, UPI, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dallas-Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Florida Times-Union, Daily Citizen, Cleveland Leader, Akron Beacon-Journal, Raleigh News-Observer, Detroit News
Puck + Mina Do Detroit: Naming Names
[GAP OF 14 MONTHS]
Celebrity Cooking Showdown
Wolf's Oscar Party: Menu & Food Photos
Wolf's Oscar Party: Prep Photos
Wolf's Oscar Party: Room Photos
Chef-Crashing Into Oscars
Wolfgang Puck on 'Las Vegas'
Wolfgang Puck: 'Vegas' TV Restaurant
Rob Kautz: Cursed to 99 Cents Only?
Fly Avion (Wolfgang Puck Included)
Applause for Gamal Aziz and Tom Kaplan
Iron Chef Pizza Wars: Batali vs. Puck
Todd English: Pots and Pans Pucked?
Wolfgang Puck: Eastern Empire
Wolf Want Meat: Wolfgang Puck Steakhouse
Iron Chef America: Running on Empty
Wolfgang Puck Inaugurates Washington
Wolfgang Puck Returns to Indiana
Coffee Puck: Heats in Your Hands
Fly With Wolfgang Puck Express
And Now Puck Paints, Two!
Wolf Wines & Dines, or Puck's Party
Puck in a Box
Wolfgang Puck Examines the Examiner
Requiem for Granita
Romancing the Stove - or The Way We Worked?
[Chefs & Branding - complete]
Technorati Tags: superchefblog, Juliette Rossant, super chef, celebrities, chefs, food, restaurants, cooking, branding, cuisine, blogging, food blogging, Wolfgang Puck, Gelila Assefa, Barbara Lazaroff
--> back to Super Chef