Emeril Lagasse

"Emeril" redirects here. For the TV sitcom, see Emeril (2001 TV series).
Emeril Lagasse
Born Emeril John Lagasse
(1959-10-15) October 15, 1959[1]
Fall River, Massachusetts, United States
Education Diman Regional Voc Tech High School, and Johnson and Wales University
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Kief (m. 1978–86) 2 children
Tari Hohn (m. 1989–96)
Alden Lovelace (m. 2000) 2 children

Culinary career

Cooking style Cajun, Portuguese, Creole, and French

Emeril John Lagasse (/ˈɛmərəl ləˈɡɑːsi/ EM-ər-əl lə-GAH-see; born October 15, 1959)[1] is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author. 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. However, he is perhaps most notable for having appeared on a wide variety of cooking TV shows, including the long-running Food Network shows Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril. On those shows he pioneered several catchphrases he is associated with, including "Kick it up a notch!" and "Bam!"[2][3] Lagasse's portfolio of media, products, and restaurants generates an estimated US$150 million annually in revenue.[4]

Early life

Lagasse was born on October 15, 1959, in Fall River, Massachusetts to a French-Canadian Québécois father, John Lagassé, and Portuguese mother, Hilda. 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.[1] 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 and Wales in 1978 and the school later awarded him an honorary doctorate.[5]


Lagasse graduated from the culinary school Johnson and Wales in 1978 and became Executive Chef at the Dunfey's Hyannis Resort in 1979. He was nominated as Chef of the Year in 1983.

In 1985, Lagasse succeeded Paul Prudhomme as executive chef of Commander's Palace in New Orleans under Richard Brennan, Sr.[6] He led the kitchen there for seven and a half years, gaining significant fame in the culinary world.

In 1990, he opened his first restaurant, 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.[7] Lagasse is known for his emphasis on Creole and Cajun cooking styles. 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.[8]

Today, Lagasse is the executive chef and proprietor of twelve restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Television and film appearances

Cooking shows

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.[9] 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.

In early 1997, Emeril Live began production. Later that year, the show won a Cable Ace Award for "Best Informational Show" of 1997.

Lagasse was one of sixteen chefs featured in the 1993 Julia Child series Cooking With Master Chefs.

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. When Emeril first began at Food Network, he would tape seven shows a day, from seven in the morning until two in the afternoon. He would frequently pepper his dialogue with "BAMS!" to keep his crew in the studio awake, focused, and on their toes. The phrase soon proved a hit with viewers.[10] "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.[11]

From April to July 2010, Lagasse hosted the weekly variety program The Emeril Lagasse Show, which aired on Sundays on Ion Television.[12]

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 has aired for four seasons, from 2013 to 2016. He now hosts Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse on Amazon Video. Its first season was released for streaming on September 9, 2016.

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.[13]

Lagasse served as the "Menu Master" of the TNT cooking competition show On the Menu, which ran for one season in 2014. The show was hosted by Ty Pennington.[14]


In 1996, Lagasse was a guest on the cult show Space Ghost Coast to Coast, where he and other chefs, including Martin Yan, prepare meals for Space Ghost.

In 1998, he became a food correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America, which he continues today.[15]

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.

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.

He made a guest appearance on Jon & Kate Plus 8 during the show's 5th season to help celebrate its 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 2012, Lagasse appeared as himself on an episode of the HBO drama series Treme.

Lagasse has appeared on the Home Shopping Network and QVC.

Philanthropy and activism

Established in 2002, Emeril Lagasse Foundation 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 Orlando Junior Academy's Edible Schoolyard also a Brand new culinary kitchen house at Orlando Junior Academy . He is 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.[16] However, the styles of cuisine at Lagasse's restaurants are not all the same. Emeril's Tchoup Chop in Orlando serves kicked-up Asian and Polynesian cuisine, while Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian in Las Vegas is a classic steakhouse with a Creole flair, and Emeril's Italian Table serves rustic 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."[17] 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. Lagasse's complete assortment of products can be found on his own store web site at http://www.emerilstore.com/ .

Lagasse also has two lines of kitchen knives produced by Wüsthof and cookware made by All-Clad, as well as a line of kitchen electrical appliances made by T-Fal.

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.[18]

Personal life

Lagasse met his first wife, Elizabeth Kief, while working at a restaurant called "Venus De Milo" to pay his way through school.[1] After the birth of daughters Jessica and Jillian,[19] Kief and Lagasse divorced. Lagasse married a second time to a fashion designer, Tari Hohn, but that too ended in divorce.[6] Lagasse was married a third time on May 13, 2000 to a real estate broker, Alden Lovelace.[6] He and Lovelace had a son, Emeril John Lagasse IV, on March 2003, and a daughter, Meril Lovelace Lagasse, on December 10, 2004.[19] In 2011, Lagasse and his family moved to Destin, Florida.[20]

On the animated television show Futurama, Lagasse is frequently parodied by the alien Chef Elzar from Neptune, who often uses Lagasse's signature "Bam!" and a very similar catchphrase "Kick it up a notch!"


Lagasse has authored 18 best-selling cookbooks:


Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 14 restaurants in the United States. These include:

Awards and honors


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Emeril Lagasse Biography". A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
  2. Walker, Rob (2003-09-29). "Emeril's Tasty Toothpaste". Slate.com. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  3. Edwards, Gina (2006-01-28). "Emeril Lagasse lets the good times roll". naplesnews.com. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
  4. Schoenfeld, Brian (2005-11-28). "Emeril's Empire". Cigar Aficionado. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
  5. "Chef Emeril Lagasse: Biography". Emerils.com. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
  6. 1 2 3 "Emeril Lagasse Biography". biography.com. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  7. "Emeril's New Orleans". Wine Spectator. 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-08-19.
  8. "Station Crew ‘Kicks it Up a Notch’ with Chef Emeril Lagasse." NASA press release. August 10, 2006. Accessed June 20, 2007.
  9. "Emeril Lagasse, Great Chefs".
  10. "Chefography, Food Network".
  11. Malkin, Marc (2008-02-28). "Exclusive! Emeril's Green Days". Planet Gossip. E!.com. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  12. Emeril Lagasse's new variety show on Ion leaves aftertaste, even with Martha Stewart's help from the New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
  13. Burros, Marian (2009-11-03). "Someone's in the Kitchen With Michelle: The Secret Ingredient Is Politics". The New York Times. Dining & Wine. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
  14. "Ty Pennington to Host TNT's New Series On the Menu".
  15. "Emerilology".
  16. About Emeril Lagasse Archived September 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. "B&G Foods Annual Report (10-K)". 2004-04-02. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
  18. "Martha Stewart to buy TV chef's media properties: report". Reuters. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  19. 1 2 "Biography for Emeril Lagasse". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  20. Read, Mimi. "Inside the Seaside Home Where Chef Emeril Lagasse's Sanity Lies". Veranda. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  21. Charlotte Observer
  22. Culinary Hall of Fame Induction
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