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The Politics of Being Wolfgang Puck | Meal Ticket

Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call
Puck urges everyone to be mindful of not only what they put into their bodies but how much of it they consume. He praised Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign but said ultimate responsibility for healthy eating rests with parents.

“I think that really is still a very difficult point here in America because people don’t know how to cook. Or they don’t want to take the time to cook,” he argued. “So it’s easier to go to a fast-food joint and pick up some fried chicken and some french fries and feed that to your kids, than making them some spinach.”

He admitted to occasionally indulging his youngest sons, Oliver and Alexander (7 and 6, respectively), with trips to Johnny Rockets or In-N-Out burger (their favorites), or perhaps splurging on hot dogs while taking in a Dodgers game.

But when eating at home, the menu gravitates toward lean proteins, brown rice, steamed vegetables (broccoli, corn and carrots top the list), fresh fruits (pears and apples abound) and simple salads (mixed greens tossed with balsamic, oil and salt).

And the family meal is just that — a communal dining experience.

“I think we all should eat the same thing,” Puck said. “My mother never cooked for kids.”

Of course, not all of us grew up eating at Puck’s kitchen table. And he’s well aware of the sobering disconnect between food trends and family budgeting.

“Organic is fantastic. But, first, it’s not available everywhere. And second of all, it’s very expensive,” he said of the high costs of buying designer foodstuffs.

Federal subsidies are a solution, albeit one that could use some retooling.

“Ideally speaking, the government should subsidize the farmers who grow organic vegetables just the way they subsidize people who grow corn to make ethanol,” he suggested, adding that the federally supported farmers could then return the favor by supplying local schools with fresh vegetables.

On the other end of the spectrum, he’s not opposed to taking unhealthy options totally off the table — particularly when it comes to school lunch programs.

“They shouldn’t have all these sodas with sugar. They should have healthy options — or no options almost,” Puck said, very much carrying water for pop-policing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Still, Puck doesn’t want the state to have the final say.

“We should not wait for the government to tell us what to do,” he counseled.

Instead, he urged everyone to be mindful of not only what they put into their bodies, but how much of it they consume.

“Eat enough so you can go home and [still] make love. Then you’ve eaten the right amount,” he quipped.

The one glimmer of hope: Many today are taking eating and nutrition much more seriously than those who came before.

“There are so many young people ... who talk about food, love food and that’s really their main topic. And they are much more in tune with what is right and wrong,” he said. “And I think if this generation is going to have kids, I think they will do a better job.”

Our Town

“It feels like a European city ... so I like to come here,” Puck said of his frequent trips to the District. He comes by, of course, to check on his restaurant and chef Scott Drewno, but also to visit family (his sister-in-law lives here).

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