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Emeril John Lagassé III
October 15, 1959
Fall River, Massachusetts, United States
|Education||Diman Regional Voc Tech High School, and Johnson & Wales University|
|Cooking style||Cajun, Portuguese, Creole, and French|
Emeril John Lagassé III (/ / EM-ə-rəl lə-GAH-see; born October 15, 1959) is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, cookbook author, and National Best Recipe award winner for his ‘Turkey and Hot Sausage Chili’ recipe in 2003. He is a regional James Beard Award winner, known for his mastery of Creole and Cajun cuisine and his self-developed "New New Orleans" style.
He has appeared on a wide variety of cooking TV shows, including the long-running Food Network shows Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril, and is associated with several catchphrases, including "Kick it up a notch!" and "Bam!" Lagasse's portfolio of media, products, and restaurants generates an estimated US$150 million annually in revenue.
Emeril John Lagasse III was born on October 15, 1959, in Fall River, Massachusetts, to a French-Canadian  father, Emeril John Lagassé, Jr. and Portuguese mother, Hilda Medeiros. 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 attended Johnson & Wales in 1978. Many years later, the school awarded him an honorary doctorate.
In 1982 Lagasse succeeded Paul Prudhomme as executive chef of Commander's Palace in New Orleans under Richard Brennan, Sr. He led the kitchen there for seven and a half years before leaving to open his own restaurant.
In 1990 he opened Emeril's in New Orleans. It was designated "Restaurant of the Year" in Esquire magazine that year, and has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1999. Many of his restaurants, as well as his corporate office, Emeril's Homebase, are located in New Orleans.
In August 2006 Lagasse contributed several recipes to the meal selection aboard the International Space Station, as part of a general NASA effort to improve the quality of the food supply for astronauts. Lagasse's cuisine in particular was selected in the hopes that the spicier fare would offset the reported tendency of microgravity to deaden flavors.
Lagasse is the executive chef and proprietor of thirteen restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Television and film appearances
Lagasse first appeared on television on the show Great Chefs where he was featured on ten episodes, including Great Chefs, the Louisiana New Garde, New Orleans Jazz Brunch and Great Chefs — Great Cities. From 1993-1995 he was the original host of Food Network's How to Boil Water. After several appearances on several other Food Network programs, Lagasse hosted his own show, 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.
He also appeared on Shop at Home Network (which, like Food Network, was owned by Scripps Networks), on the 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.
On television, Lagasse is known for his light and jovial hosting style as well as several catchphrases, including "Bam!". Emeril's signature catchphrase began simply as a means of keeping his studio crew awake, alert and focused. When Emeril first began at Food Network, he would tape seven shows a day, from seven in the morning until two in the afternoon. The interjection soon proved a hit with viewers. "Kick it up a notch", "Aw, yeah, babe" and "Feel the love", are usually said before or after adding something spicy to a dish, or after the reaction to adding something. When frying or making dishes like sausage, Lagasse advocated 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 hosted a daily series, Emeril Green, which aired on Discovery Channel's eco-lifestyle network Planet Green. The show focused on cooking with organic, locally grown and seasonal produce, and was filmed on location at Whole Foods Markets across the United States.
In September 2011 he hosted the Hallmark Channel show, Emeril's Table. It was cancelled after one season. In 2013, Lagasse began hosting the Cooking Channel show Emeril's Florida. The show aired for five seasons, from 2013 to 2017.
Lagasse appeared on the season 9 episode of Scrubs, 'My BAM!' where his distinct cooking style helped to bring the hospital staff together after the Janitor accidentally locked everyone in the morgue.
Culinary travel show
Emeril now hosts Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse on Amazon Video produced by Ugly Brother Studios. Its first season was released for streaming on September 9, 2016. In 2017 the show won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Culinary Program as well as for Single-Camera Editing The television show features Emeril and internationally known chefs such as; Angela Dimayuga, Danny Bowien, Mario Batali, Aarón Sánchez, José Andrés and others, traveling the world and trying local favorites.
Cooking competition shows
In 2009 Lagasse joined Bravo's Top Chef as a judge. He also was a guest judge during season 9 of Top Chef: Texas in 2011 and joined the judges' table for seasons 10 and 11 in Seattle and New Orleans, respectively. During season 11 of Top Chef: New Orleans, Emeril's Restaurant was the featured location and the episode's winning dish was featured on the menu at the restaurant.
Lagasse 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.
Lagasse briefly starred on Emeril, a TV sitcom on NBC during the 2001 fall season with Robert Urich, in which he played a fictionalized version of himself. It was canceled after eleven episodes.
In 2012, Lagasse appeared as himself on an episode of the HBO drama series Treme. Lagasse's scene was written by fellow chef (and Treme writer) Anthony Bourdain, who stated afterward that writing the scene was "a dream" for him because it showed a sadder, more burdened side of Lagasse, which existed in real life but was rarely shown in his television appearances.
Lagasse acted as Grand Marshal 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.
Philanthropy and activism
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation, founded in 2002, supports non-profit organizations and educational initiatives that create opportunities for children, especially for those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential.
Emeril Lagasse Foundation has distributed more than $6 million in grants for children's charities. Projects funded by the Foundation include an outdoor classroom, gardens, fresh foods cafeteria and teaching kitchen at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans and the Orlando Junior Academy's Edible Schoolyard as well as a new culinary kitchen house, an accessible learning kitchen for special needs students at St. Michael Special School, a four-year culinary arts program for high school students at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Hospitality Center at Café Reconcile, and hospitality training at Liberty's Kitchen for at-risk youth preparing healthy school meals. Each fall, the foundation hosts its signature annual fundraiser, Carnivale du Vin, which ranks among the Top Ten U.S. Charity Wine Auctions in Wine Spectator magazine. The Foundation introduced the charity indoor/outdoor food and music fest Boudin, Bourbon & Beer in 2011. In 2013 Lagasse was honored as James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year.
In 2010 Lagasse appeared in a commercial to raise awareness of the Deepwater Horizon oil 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's style of cooking is called "New New Orleans", which uses local Louisiana ingredients in his own interpretation of Creole cuisine, strongly influenced by Asian, Portuguese, Southwestern, and other cultures which themselves influence New Orleans cuisine. However, the styles of cuisine at Lagasse's restaurants are not all the same. Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian in Las Vegas is a classic steakhouse with a Creole flair, and Emeril's Coastal Italian serves seafood heavy, Italian-inspired fare.
Merchandising and endorsements
Lagasse has a wide range of branded products. On June 8, 2000, he signed a deal with B&G Foods to create a line of dry grocery products marketed under the label "Emeril's." The product line includes pasta sauces, marinades, salsas, and Lagasse's signature "Essence" spice blend. In 2004 he lent his name to a line of fresh produce made by Pride of San Juan. These products, branded "Emeril's Gourmet Produce", include spring mix salad blends, fresh herbs, and heirloom tomatoes.
On February 19, 2008, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced it had acquired the rights to all Emeril products including cookware, cookbooks, television shows, and food products in a $50 million agreement. Lagasse retains rights to his restaurants and corporate offices.
Lagasse met his first wife, Elizabeth Kief, while working at the Venus De Milo Restaurant in Swansea, Massachusetts to pay his way through school. After Kief and Lagasse divorced, Lagasse married a second time to a fashion designer, Tari Hohn, but that too ended in divorce. Lagasse was married a third time on May 13, 2000, to a real estate broker, Alden Lovelace. He and Lovelace had two children. In 2011, Lagasse and his family moved to Destin, Florida. His mother, Hilda Medeiros Lagasse died on August 24, 2016.
Lagasse has written cookbooks including:
- New New Orleans Cooking (1993)
- Louisiana Real and Rustic (1996)
- Emeril's Creole Christmas (1997)
- Emeril's TV Dinners (1998)
- Every Day's a Party (1999)
- Prime Time Emeril (2001)
- Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup!: Recipes for the Kid in Everyone (2002)
- From Emeril's Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril's Restaurants (2003)
- Emeril's There's a Chef in My Family (2004)
- Emeril's Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude (2004)
Lagasse is the chef or proprietor of the following restaurants:
- New Orleans: Emeril's New Orleans, NOLA Restaurant, Emeril's Delmonico, Meril, Emeril's Table
- Las Vegas: Emeril's New Orleans Fish House at MGM Grand, Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian, and Lagasse's Stadium at The Palazzo
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Emeril's Chop House, BAM (Burgers and More by Emeril), and Emeril's Fish House, all at the Sands Casino Resort
- Miramar Beach, Florida: Emeril's Coastal Italian
Former restaurants of his include:
- Orlando: Emeril's Tchoup Chop (2003-2017)
- Las Vegas: Table 10 (2007-2017)
- Emeril's Orlando (1999-2018)
Awards and honors
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- Two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner:
- Best Southeast Regional Chef - 1991
- Humanitarian of the Year - 2013
- Chef of the Year, GQ magazine, 1998
- Most Intriguing People of the Year, People magazine, 1998
- Executive of the Year, Restaurants & Institutions magazine, 2004
- Distinguished Service Award, Wine Spectator, 2005
- Gaming Hall of Fame, inducted 2008
- Lifetime Achievement Award, The Food Network, 2009
- Taste Hall of Fame, Taste Awards, 2013
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Taste Awards, 2014
- Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Culinary Program, Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse, 2017
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