There was a time—and our more mature readers will remember this—when dining at a concert was limited to concession-stand hot dogs and nachos. It wasn’t bad, because we were usually pretty stoned and everything tasted good. But, as America’s premier celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck points out, things have changed.
“More and more people know about food,” he tells me at his Caesars Palace landmark, Spago. “Years ago, nobody really cared about the food [at concerts]. People used to get stoned and drunk. But now all of a sudden people say, ‘We want good food, too!’ Why not have everything?” And if you want everything at America’s first Rock in Rio, you’ll need VIP tickets for access to unlimited gourmet dining catered by Puck and his team.
The Rock Weekend and Pop Weekend menus will differ, but both will feature dishes from England, Brazil and the U.S. (heavy on New Orleans fare), as well as bar snacks and desserts. Highlights that I sampled during a recent media preview included made-to-order ramen, a plowman’s feast of charcuterie and cheese, and the Brazilian bean stew feijoada. Other options for VIP guests (who will shell out $498 a day for admission to the concert and access to the massive VIP tent with prime views of the two main stages) include bangers and mash, crepes and jalapeño-glazed chicken and waffles.
Puck says he and his team don’t want any guest to leave unimpressed by their meals. “We hope the VIPs will come and have a great experience,” he says. “We want people to go home and say, ‘We listened to great music, had great food, some good comforts and drinks.”
The chef is no stranger to pairing music and food, having done it for almost a decade. “When we opened Cut in Beverly Hills eight or nine years ago,” he says, “it was the first restaurant where I decided I’m gonna choose the music I like. So what did I choose? Mostly music I grew up with when I was young. So it was Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Stones. That was really the beginning, where I decided music was part of the experience.”
So will the celebrity chef with a restaurant empire that spans the globe and includes six Vegas establishments (following the recent closure of Postrio) be personally attending Rock in Rio? He says that as long as his wife is OK with it, he’ll try to catch at least one day. “I probably would go for rock or hard rock, one or the other,” he says of his lineup preference for the four-day event. “If I were to go to listen to Bruno Mars or Taylor Swift, I would go for an hour and then leave, and then come [to Spago] for dinner.”
So, if you have VIP tickets for Metallica’s set, be sure to find Puck and thank him for the good eats.