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Emeril's Empire

Updated on May 11, 2014

The Face of Cooking

Although Emeril has become a standard for chefs and restaurateurs throughout the country, inspiring others by the success of his restaurants and devotion to the culinary arts, he became well known in American homes thanks to the Food Network. The first cable station that featured all food-related programs debuted on November 23, 1993. Emeril was one of the first professionals to appear on the network, hosting a pilot for them. Nearly a year later, the "Essence of Emeril" debuted on the network. It would become one of the network's highest rated shows, eventually being named one of TV's "Top Ten Shows" by Time Magazine. "BAM!" and "Kick it up a notch" became household phrases as Emeril introduced them.

On January 6, 1997, "Emeril Live" debuted and changed the landscape of food and cooking programs forever. One year later, Emeril was named the food correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America", a role he still occupies. A decade later, in 2008, after well over 1,000 shows recorded for the Food Network, "Emeril Green" debuted on Planet Green.

On January 3, 2010, Emeril joined fellow star chefs Bobby Flay and Mario Batali at the White House to compete in a special episode of Iron Chef America. He has now hosted or appeared in over 2,000 shows on the Food Network.

Emeril is currently making his TV home on the Cooking Channel as host of "Fresh Food Fast", "The Originals with Emeril" and "Emeril's Florida". The Hallmark Channel also hosted "Emeril's Table" on their network for one season in 2011. The busy chef also recently joined the judge's table on Bravo's Top Chef New Orleans.

Humble Beginnings

Emeril John Lagasse the third was born on October 15, 1959 in Fall River, Massachusetts. He earned his first exposure to the culinary arts from his mother Hilda, before working in a Portuguese bakery in Fall River. There he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking. Upon graduating high school, the percussionist turned down a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music to attend Johnson and Wales University, where he earned a degree in Culinary Arts in 1978.

Emeril then left the country to learn classic French cuisine in Paris and Lyon, France. Upon returning to the United States, he fine-tuned his culinary skills in fine restaurants in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, earning the title of Executive Chef within a year of finishing school. Dick and Ella Brennan, owners of the legendary Commander's Palace in New Orleans, lured Emeril to be their executive chef in 1982. He succeeded the New Orleans icon Paul Prudhomme as the chef of the Commander's Palace. He would remain at the helm for seven and a half years before venturing out on his own, beginning Emeril's Empire.

Chef Emeril John Lagasse
Chef Emeril John Lagasse | Source

Emeril's Restaurant Empire

Emeril now owns 13 restaurants, spread out over five states. On March 26, 1990, he opened his flagship eatery, Emeril's, in the Warehouse District in downtown New Orleans. The restaurant, opened in a renovated pharmacy warehouse features top local, seasonal ingredients and Emeril's "New New Orleans" style cuisine.

Emeril opened NOLA in the French Quarter two years later, in October of 1992.The casual eatery highlights the chef's fusion of traditional Creole and Acadian cuisine with global influences. In November of 1995, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas became home to Emeril's New Orleans Fish House, bringing world-wide attention to the rapidly rising star. The Fish House highlighted Emeril's "New New Orleans" style of cooking, with a focus on fresh seafood.

On June 1, 1998, New Orleans' historic Garden District became home to the third of his adopted city's restaurants, Emeril's Delmonico. The restaurant opens in the same building as the iconic Delmonico, a New Orleans institution since 1895. One year later, he would open two more eateries, Emeril's in Orlando, Florida and Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venetian Resort, Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Florida eatery would open on February 16 at Universal Studios CityWalk. The Vegas eatery would open on May 3 and would highlight the chef's take on the great American steakhouse.

In 2003, Emeril opened his seventh restaurant, Tchoup Chop (pronounced chop-chop) at Universal Orlando's Royal Pacific Resort. Five years would pass before the opening of the next restaurant, the casual eatery Table 10 at the Palazzo in Las Vegas. In May, 2009, he opened Emeril's Chop House at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, the chef's first foray into the Northeast. Four months later, the Palazzo in Vegas welcomed Lagasse's Stadium, a restaurant and sports entertainment venue.

Also in 2009, the Sands Bethlehem welcomed their second Emeril eatery, Burgers And More (BAM) By Emeril. Two years later, Emeril opened his third restaurant at the Sands Bethlehem and his first Italian venture, Emeril's Italian Table. In January, 2012, Emeril opened his newest restaurant, e2 emeril's eatery in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Levine Center for the Arts. Two months later, e2GO opened next to e2 emeril's eatery, offering consumers quick, fresh food to go.


Cookbooks, Cookware and Gourmet Food Line

Emeril published his first cookbook, Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking in April of 1993. This was the first of his 18 bestselling cookbooks, the latest of which is Cooking with Power, published in October, 2013.

In 1996, Emeril would release a book a year for four years, starting with "Louisiana Real and Rustic", followed by "Emeril's Creole Christmas", "Emeril's TV Dinners" and "Every Day's a Party". In 2001, he would start a six-year publishing streak, beginning with ""Prime Time Emeril", followed by "Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup", "From Emeril's Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from Emeril's Restaurants", "Emeril's Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude", "Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past" and "There's a Chef in My World".

The year 2009 saw the release of "Emeril at the Grill", which debuted at number 8 on the New York Times bestseller list, followed the same year by "Emeril 20-40-60:Fresh Food Fast". "Farm to Fork Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh" was released in 2010, followed by "Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders" in 2011 and "Kicked-Up Sandwiches:Stacked with Flavor" in 2012.

Emeril also entered the retail market with "Emeril by All Clad" cookware in 1999. Several months later, the chef introduced "Emeril's Original", a line of pasta sauces, salad dressings and seasonings. In 2006, Emeril kitchen appliances by T-Fal debuted in stores.

Later that year, Emeril became the first celebrity chef to have recipes developed by NASA and food served in space. On April 3, 2008, Emeril joined the Martha Stewart family of brands, which acquired his media and merchandising business. Earlier this year, Emeril's Bam!-Bites debuted in Walmart stores.

"From Emeril's Kitchens", the chef's eighth cookbook.
"From Emeril's Kitchens", the chef's eighth cookbook.

Rewards and Recognition

Emeril's original restaurant earned it's first award in 1990; "Restaurant of the Year" by Esquire magazine. In 1991, the restaurant earned the Wine Spectator "Grand Award" and Emeril won the award for "Best Southeast Regional Chef" by the James Beard Foundation. Esquire also awarded "Best New Restaurant" to NOLA upon its opening in 1993.

Zagat named Emeril's New Orleans Fish House "Best Restaurant in Las Vegas". In 1998, Emeril was named "Chef of the Year" by GQ magazine. He was named one of People magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of the Year" in 1999. In 2002, Las Vegas Life magazine named Delmonico Steakhouse the "Best Steakhouse". In 2004, the steakhouse won the Wine Spectator "Grand Award" and has captured the award every year since. Also in 2004, Emeril was named "Executive of the Year" by Restaurants and Institutions magazine.

In 2005, he received the "Distinguished Service Award" by Wine Spectator. Nation's Restaurant News inducted Emeril into it's MenuMasters Hall of Fame in 2006. One year later, he was named "Restaurateur of the Year" by New Orleans CityBusiness. Emeril received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Food Network's South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2009. Emeril was featured in the 2012 Smithsonian exhibit "Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000". In 2013, Emeril was named Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Emeril doing work with his foundation.
Chef Emeril doing work with his foundation. | Source


In October, 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which has donated more than $5.5 million to children's causes in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. The goal of the organization is to provide support to children's educational programs and inspire young people through the culinary arts. Education about school food and nutrition, outdoor classrooms, gardens, fresh food cafeterias and teaching kitchens are some of the projects funded by the foundation.

In 2011, Emeril dedicated the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Arts Studio at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. The studio offers a four-year culinary arts program for high school students. Wine Spectator magazine consistently ranks the programs annual fundraiser among the "Top 10 US Charity Wine Auctions".


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