Wolfgang Puck talks restaurant trends

Wolfgang Puck hosted a Lunch & Learn event at the Borgata. / Provided Wolfgang Puck hosted a Lunch & Learn event at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. / Provided

Restaurants everywhere have evolved as food trends change, and the shore scene is no different.

Just ask celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, who owns more than 20 high-end restaurants — and tinkers with them as consumers change their expectations and tastes.

“Fancy restaurants 20 or 30 years ago were different,” Puck told us at Wolfgang Puck American Grille at the Borgata in Atlantic City. “People who had money wanted to sit at the table and get formal service from waiters in tuxedos. … Today a lot of people want to be relaxed, including myself.

“I want to have a good time and have good food. We are living less formal now. What should be formal is what is on the plate.”

So diners today don’t want the white table clothes or fawning waiters. Instead, they want casual and easy-going.

But there’s a catch: They also expect their food to be elevated — prepared inventively with attention paid to source, nutrition and, of course, taste.

“There’s an evolution going on in cuisine,” Puck said. “If you look at the way we cooked 50 years ago it is totally different than today. Each generation has their new way of doing things and people today are much more experimental than people who used to hesitate to eat things they’ve never eaten before. Restaurants have become an experiment for many people.”

The trend has been long apparent in Philly, with restaurants like French landmark Le Bec Fin closing its doors and hipper, edgier spots fighting to make a splash.

“If I would not have changed,” Puck said, “we would have ridden just like the rest of the old restaurants into the sunset slowly.”

Pro tip:Skimp on the oil

The chef's Italian strata with tomatoes. / Provided The chef’s Italian strata with tomatoes. / Provided

Average eaters becoming more educated about food and paying more attention to what they’re putting into their bodies plays a big role in the cuisine evolution, and Puck certainly hasn’t missed that: his latest cookbook is “Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy: Light, Delicious Recipes and Easy Exercises for a Better Life.”

One pro tip from the celeb chef? In some recipes in the book, he substitutes yogurt for oil or butter.

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