To say that Emeril Lagasse is a famous US chef is, well, a bit of an understatement. His renown is not just amongst the folks in the food industry, but with the American mainstream as well. After all, he is one of the first modern day celebrity chefs.
A native of Massachusetts, Lagasse was on the track to become a musician with a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music. Instead, he enrolled in the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University. Following graduation, Lagasse traveled to Paris and Lyon where he polished his skills and learned the art of classic French cuisine. Returning to the US, the young Lagasse worked in restaurants in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia before heading south to the Big Easy. Lured to New Orleans by Dick and Ella Brennan, Lagasse was the executive chef at their legendary restaurant, Commander's Palace, for over seven years.
Lagasse opened his first restaurant, Emeril’s Restaurant in 1990 in downtown New Orleans; two years later he opened NOLA Restaurant in the French Quarter. Lagasse is now the chef-proprietor of 11 restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, Gulfport, and Bethlehem. Outside of his TV cooking, he is best known for his approachable take on modern Creole cuisine.
Throughout his extensive career, Lagasse has received countless accolades. He was named "Best Southeast Regional Chef" by the James Beard Foundation in 1991. More recently, Lagasse was chosen as “Executive of the Year” by Restaurants and Institutions magazine in 2004, and he was named “Restaurateur of the Year” by New Orleans CityBusiness in 2007. In 2009, he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
As a national TV personality, Lagasse has hosted over 1,500 shows on the Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC’s "Good Morning America.” He is the host of “Emeril Green,” “Essence of Emeril,” and “Emeril Live.”
Lagasse is the author of 13 cookbooks including Emeril’s New New Orleans Cooking, which introduced his creative take on Creole cuisine, and Emeril’s There’s a Chef in My World, a children’s cookbook. Lagasse established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation in 2002 to support and encourage culinary arts and education programs for children. As of May 2009, the foundation has contributed $3 million to organizations in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast.