The Tastemakers: Spago

Wolfgang Puck, perhaps America's most famous chef and restaurant owner, in the dining room of Spago Beverly Hills, adjacent to AKA Beverly Hills. AKA's guests can order room service from Spago, or if they prefer to dine at the restaurant, as Wolfgang says: "AKA guests always have a table at Spago."

Spago is conveniently located one-half block from AKA Beverly Hills. Spago has been going strong for over 33 years and is one of the most iconic restaurants in America.

On the day we visited, Wolfgang talked quality of strawberries and other fruits with Pastry Chef Della Gossett. Wolfgang expressed his admiration for the work that farmers in California are doing in producing some of the best produce available in the world.

One of the more than ten daily desserts, ready for slicing.

Wolfgang Puck discusses menu strategy with Executive Chef Tetsu Yahagi, who leads the kitchen team.

A wood-fired pizza oven where the long-running hit House-Smoked Salmon Pizza is made. Rumor has it that Wolfgang invented this dish one evening at the original Spago, when Joan Collins ordered smoked salmon with brioche, but the restaurant was out of bread at that moment. So Wolfgang replaced the bread with pizza crust and made an elevated take on salmon on a bagel, by using creme fraiche in place of cream cheese.

The signature Wolfgang Puck dish: Salmon Pizza with Dill-Creme Fraiche and Caviar

Agnolotti with Peas and Fresh Truffles

Spago takes full advantage of the amazing southern California weather with a large outdoor patio; one of the favorite lunch-time seats for the long-term regulars.

Spago has a very deep wine cellar with one of the leading Bordeaux and Burgundy selections anywhere. Here, some scenes of one of the wine team, some bottles in the cellar as well as a by-the-glass Chablis, from Magnum.

Wolfgang relies heavily on a seasoned team to bring his vision to life with consistent quality. Executive Chef Tetsu Yahagi recently introduced a five-course lunch tasting menu, which he described to lunch regulars.

A scene in the Spago dining room: Wolfgang with Stevie Wonder, early days, at the original Spago location on the Sunset strip in West Hollywood.