The History and Future of Spago: Barbara Lazaroff and Byron Lazaroff-Puck

“It’s unbelievable being able to grow up in this restaurant and witness my mom. She has taught me so much. It has been an incredible blessing.” Byron Lazaroff-Puck

Spago, Beverly Hills is the iconic flagship of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. Celebrations at Spago are legendary. Did you know that the Oscars parties at Spago predate the Vanity Fair parties? Just days before Covid hit in March, Chef Jaime Laurita and I went to Spago for a very special Kitchen Chat with Barbara Lazaroff, co-founder of Wolfgang Puck Brand and her youngest son, Byron Lazaroff-Puck.

A special photograph in Spago with Byron Lazaroff-Puck, Barbara Lazaroff, Margaret McSweeney and Chef Jaime Laurita. This was taken just days before Covid changed everyone’s life.

The night before the interview, Barbara had joined Jaime and me to celebrate Kitchen Chat’s induction into the Taste Awards Hall of Fame.

Barbara’s friendship is a true blessing to me. We met several years ago through Tricia LaVoice.

Barbara’s genuine exuberance for family, friends, food, and design radiates through her life. As a philanthropist, she has helped change so many lives. As a friend, she has helped change my life, both professionally and personally. Her kindness, encouragement and culinary industry introductions have helped propel Kitchen Chat onto an unimaginable trajectory. Barbara always sees the potential in people and helps them find the best in themselves. When my life took an unexpected health detour after my broken knee, Barbara helped me navigate this new path. I will save those stories for another post. This special Kitchen Chat is about Barbara and her youngest son, Byron who share memories, meals and lessons from Spago’s history and provide glimpses into the exciting future of this iconic family restaurant. Above all, the mutual love and admiration that this mother and son have for each other is what shines through in this Kitchen Chat.

Barbara Lazaroff in the Middleby Residential Chicago Showroom during the James Beard Awards in 2018. Chef jaime Laurita, Yvonne Cadiz-Kim and I co-hosted a special celebration to honor Barbara

Since our Kitchen Chat at Spago in March, the restaurant world has changed dramatically. As a preface to the recording in March, Barbara added a recent update on the state of the restaurant industry. From the kitchen to the front of the house at Spago, everyone is Covid tested every week (including Barbara) and everyone wears masks, visors and gloves. “Our sanitizing methods have become even more strident and the health department gave us 100!” Barbara shares.

As always, Barbara’s exuberance and design aesthetic are key elements in creating memorable experiences in any circumstance. Look at the beautiful outdoor dining that she curated for Spago.

And the food that the Spago culinary team continues to create is always a delicious sensory experience!

Chef Jaime and I hope you enjoy this special Kitchen Chat. It’s almost an hour long and is packed with special stories. My hope is that after listening to the podcast (or watching the full video), you will have a greater appreciation and admiration of the effort, dedication, courage, and love it takes to build a successful restaurant. And speaking of restaurants, please help save your local restaurants. And please consider making donations to wonderful organizations that help provide meals to those who are facing and experiencing food insecurity during these challenging times.

Here are Byron Lazaroff-Puck’s Top Tips for the Home Chef:

  1. Always Keep these 9 Flavor Makers stocked:  rosemary, thyme, garlic, onion, good sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, chili flake, olive oil, and butter.
  2. Don’t be afraid to buy “ugly” produce.  
  3. Don’t be afraid to use butter and salt when cooking for others.

Savor the day!