Emeril John Lagasse, born October 15, 1959, is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author. A regional James Beard Award winner, he is perhaps most notable for his Food Network shows Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril as well as catchphrases such as “Kick it up a notch!” and “Bam!” The "Emeril Empire" of media, products and restaurants generates an estimated US$150 million annually in revenue.
Lagasse was born on October 15, 1959, in Fall River, Massachusetts to a Canadian Québécois father, John, and Portuguese mother, Hilda. He has distant relatives in Connecticut's New Haven and New London counties. Lagasse worked in a Portuguese bakery as a teenager where he discovered his talent for cooking and subsequently enrolled in a culinary arts program at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School. His talents as a percussionist earned him a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music but he chose instead to attend Johnson & Wales University in hopes of becoming a chef. He met his first wife, Elizabeth Kief, while working at a restaurant called "Venus De Milo" to pay his way through school. He attended Johnson and Wales in 1978 and the school later awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 1982 Lagasse succeeded Paul Prudhomme as executive chef of Commander's Palace in New Orleans.
After the birth of daughters Jessica and Jillian, Elizabeth Kief and Lagasse divorced. Lagasse married a second time to a fashion designer, Tari Hohn, but that too ended in divorce. Lagasse married a third time on May 13, 2000 to a real estate broker, Alden Lovelace. He and Lovelace had a son, Emeril John Lagasse IV, on March 2003, and a daughter, Meril Lovelace Lagasse, on December 10, 2004.
In 2010 as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Lagasse appeared in a commercial to raise awareness for the spill. Also starring in the commercial were Sandra Bullock, Peyton and Eli Manning, Jack Del Rio, Drew Brees, James Carville, Blake Lively, and John Goodman.
Lagasse revealed in an episode of Emeril's Originals that he was a drummer before becoming a chef, and that he still drums as a hobby.
Emeril Lagasse was a chef at the storied Telemark lodge in Cable, WI from 1978 to 1980. Lagasse initially gained fame in the culinary world as executive chef of Commander’s Palace. After leaving Commander’s he opened his first restaurant, Emeril’s, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1990. It was designated “Restaurant of the Year” in Esquire magazine of that year. Lagasse is mainly known for his emphasis on Creole and Cajun cooking styles. Indeed, many of his restaurants—as well as his corporate office, Emeril’s Homebase—are located in New Orleans. Lagasse is the executive chef and proprietor of thirteen restaurants. In April 2008 Emeril closed the doors on Emeril’s Atlanta, which had been open since 2003. In May 2009 during preparations for the opening of Emeril's Chop House at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, Emeril announced that he had plans to open two more restaurants in the resort—the first of which will open in November 2009 and will focus on gourmet burgers. In August 2011, Emeril's Miami closed its doors. Emeril Lagasse has three restaurants at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Emeril's Chop House, Burgers and More by Emeril, and Emeril's Italian Table. There are currently no plans to open any more at this location.
Lagasse also opened a new restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina named e2 Emeril's Eatery. This was opened to acclaim in Uptown Charlotte on Jan. 26, 2011. It features most of Emeril's specialties, but also includes local North Carolina (NC) favorites, including NC caught seafoods. It is located near the Duke Energy Center in Uptown, near other upscale restaurants.
Television and filmEdit
Emeril first appeared on television on the show Great Chefs where he was featured on no fewer than ten episodes including Great Chefs, the Louisiana New Garde, New Orleans Jazz Brunch and Great Chefs — Great Cities. After several appearances on several other FoodTV programs, Lagasse hosted his own show, The Essence of Emeril. “Essence” in the title refers to Emeril’s Essence, the name of a spice blend of his own concoction that he frequently uses in his cooking, and which is commercially available in several flavors. He also often suggested that viewers of his show create their own spice blends that reflect their personal tastes and be unafraid to use them to customize the dishes he would teach. Lagasse has been nominated eight times for a Daytime Emmy Award for his Food Network shows without winning. On November 27, 2007 The Food Network announced that it would be canceling the Emeril Live show on December 11, 2007. The Food Network, however, stated that Essence of Emeril will continue production.
Lagasse briefly starred in a self-titled TV sitcom on NBC during the 2001 fall season with Robert Urich, but it was canceled after several episodes and widely panned by critics. Lagasse also appeared on Shop at Home Network (which, like Food Network, was owned by Scripps Networks), on the show From Emeril's Kitchen from 2005–06. The program was discontinued after Scripps liquidated Shop at Home’s assets to Jewelry Television in June 2006. Lagasse has appeared on the Home Shopping Network for the channel's 30th anniversary.
On television, Lagasse is known for his light and jovial hosting style as well as several catchphrases, including "Bam!", "kick it up a notch," "aw, yeah, babe" and "feel the love," usually said before or after adding something spicy to a dish, or after the reaction to adding something, respectively. When frying or making dishes like sausage, Lagasse advocates using genuine lard, boasting, "Pork fat rules!" This style developed fully and Lagasse became more comfortable when a live studio audience was added in the change from Essence of Emeril to Emeril Live.
Lagasse also acted as Grand Marshall of the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade and presided over the nationally telecast coin-toss before the game wearing a business suit—a rarity for Lagasse who is normally attired in chef's garb.
Lagasse is currently hosting his new daily series Emeril Green that airs on Discovery Channel's new eco-lifestyle network Planet Green. Emeril Green is filmed on location at Whole Foods Markets across the United States.
Emeril made a guest appearance on Jon & Kate Plus 8 during the show's 5th season to help celebrate their 100th episode in May 2009. He also provided the voice of Marlon the Gator in the 2009 Disney film, The Princess and the Frog. In November 2009 Lagasse announced that he is planning a new cooking show featuring him that he hopes will be featured on network prime time television. Lagasse also teamed with fellow Food Network personality Mario Batali in a tag battle against Bobby Flay and White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford on an episode of Iron Chef America which aired on January 2, 2010. In April 2010 Lagasse began hosting a new weekly variety program, The Emeril Lagasse Show, which airs on Ion Television each Sunday. In September 2011, he hosted a show from Hallmark Channel called Emeril's Table. It was cancelled after one season. Now he hosts a new Cooking Channel show called Emeril's Florida. On the Animated television show Futurama, Lagasse is parodied by the Alien Chef Elzar, who often uses Lagasse's signature "BAM!" and "Knock it up a notch!" In 2012, Lagasse appeared as himself on an episode of the HBO drama series Treme. In May 2013, Legasse won the "Humanitarian of the Year" Award from the James Beard Foundation