Plucky Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck was in Houston pimping his line of bottled iced coffees — called, no joke, "Wolfgang Puck Culinary Iced Coffee" — and he also shared his not-so-favorable opinion of his competitor, Starbucks. Said Puck: "[I]t's terrible coffee! Like when I fly on United Airlines they say, 'We proudly serve Starbucks coffee.' I said they should say, 'We are embarrassed to serve Starbucks coffee.'"
The line of iced coffee drinks is just one small part of Puck's coffee empire, which is again part of his larger culinary empire. He also stocks coffee at hotels and offices, while his Wolfgang Puck Express restaurants are found in airports and hospitals.
Which maybe seems like a lot? And before you jump up and down and call Puck a sellout, here's Bourdain's take: "It breaks my heart to see him on QVC or whatever, but the fact is he paid his dues. He’s an important guy. It’s an Orson Welles thing: He made Citizen Kane, so it doesn’t matter what he does after that."
Oh, okay. So it seems that what Puck is doing now is preparing to do battle in Starbucks' game of flavor-based psychological warfare. "Starbucks, what they make, if you open a bottle and smell it, what did they do to the coffee?" Puck said. "They created a taste in the memory for people, which is interesting, so that people really think it's good coffee." So they're kind of being brainwashed? Puck, on the other hand "took...about a year and a half to get the flavors right"; he admits his standards are "very peculiar." Starbucks, your move.