A combination of Emeril Lagasse’s dynamic personality and culinary expertise has made him into a top chef. However, where did his aspirations begin? We are taking a look back at Lagasse’s life and what made him the top chef that we all know and love today.
Early Inspirations and Dreams
Although it would be hard to imagine our culinary world without Emeril Lagasse, if he had chosen music instead of cooking, we wouldn’t have his 12 restaurants, 19 cookbooks, or many seasons of entertaining cooking shows. As a young boy, Emeril was an accomplished percussionist and was accepted to attend New England Conservatory of Music on full scholarship. He turned down that opportunity to attend the famed culinary school of Johnson and Wales University.
To begin with, he had always dreamed of being a chef and knew his dream was within his reach. Emeril credits his love of the kitchen to his mother Hilda and the time he spent in the kitchen with her. As a teenager, he mastered the art of bread baking and pastry while working at a Portuguese bakery.
Emeril’s Early Career
Once Emeril earned his degree from Johnson and Wales University in 1978, he traveled to Paris and Lyon, France to learn the art of classic French cuisine. Once he returned to the United States, he worked in an assortment of fine restaurants in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. In 1982, he accepted a position at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans under the direction of Deick and Ella Brennan. He was even Chef of the Year in 1992.
Building His Empire of Restaurants
After his seven year stint at Commander’s Palace, Emeril was ready to establish what would become an empire of restaurants along with the world famous Emeril Lagasse brand. His first restaurant carries his name and was in New Orleans’ Warehouse District. Since then, he has opened a total of 12 eateries in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, Miramar Beach, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Emeril’s restaurants consistently earn accolades and also top ratings proving he is America’s culinary hero. His most recent restaurant, Emeril’s Coastal Italian in Miramar Beach, Florida.
Emeril’s Coastal Italian combines the rich and diverse tradition of Italian cuisine with the bountiful variety of nearby fresh Gulf seafood and local ingredients.
America’s Favorite Television Chef
As a television personality, he coined the phrase “BAM” when adding spices and encouraged home viewers to “take it up a notch!” on his more than 2,000 hosted Food Network shows. Audiences can’t get enough of Emeril. In addition to guest appearances and an original Amazon series, he entered his fifth season of “Emeril’s Florida” on the Cooking Channel.
Philanthropist and Space Age Chef
Not only is Emeril talented, but he is also a philanthropist. Since the creation of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, it has distributed more than $10 million in grants for children’s charities in New Orleans, Las Vegas, and on the Gulf Coast. His foundation supports children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, school food and nutrition and important life skills programs.
Emeril’s contributions to culinary discovery have even been employed by NASA. In 2006, Emeril contributed several recipes that were used aboard the International Space Station. Microgravity has a tendency to lessen flavors. Emeril’s particular use of spices was chosen in an effort to improve the astronauts’ quality of food.
Bookshelf Full of Cookbooks
And let’s not forget his collection of cookbooks. His first cookbook “Emeril’s New New Orleans Cooking” introduced his creative take on Creole cooking in 1993 and has sold more than two million copies. His most recent, and most personal cookbook “Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life in the Kitchen” presents his favorite recipes, best-kept cooking secrets, and behind-the-scenes stories from his life in the kitchen. Emeril’s other cookbooks have brought his style of grilling, one-dish meals, kids recipes, and of course Creole Christmas favorites to the home chef.
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