Who knew that a kid working in the local Portuguese bakery would burst with a bam(!) into the culinary scene, opening a series of successful restaurants, hosting popular TV shows and becoming one of the most recognizable chefs of all time?
As a boy, Emeril Lagasse began bread and pastry making at a Portuguese bakery in his Fall River, Mass., neighborhood. Turning down a music scholarship to follow his culinary dream, Emeril worked his way through the Johnson and Wales University culinary program to earn a doctorate.
After school, Emeril turned his eye toward the classic cuisine of France. He polished his skills in Paris and Lyons before returning to the U.S., where he worked in several fine restaurants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Building a reputation through his use of only the freshest products, he came to the attention of Ella Brennan, the doyenne of New Orleans' culinary community. She persuaded 26-year-old Emeril to move to the Big Easy, where for nearly eight years he presided over Ella and Dick Brennan's legendary restaurant, Commander's Palace.
Emeril opened his own restaurant in 1990. From the day its doors opened, Emeril's Restaurant and its owner drew ecstatic praise. Congratulations came not only from the local New Orleans gentry and the writers who prowl the region for culinary news, but also from such national magazines as Esquire, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure, as well as from such noted food critics as John Mariani and Gene Bourg.
Following the success of Emeril's Restaurant, Emeril opened multiple establishments. NOLA, which opened in New Orleans' French Quarter in 1992, and Emeril's New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, which premiered in 1995, both draw crowds of fans and rave reviews. In 1998, Emeril also reopened the classic Emeril's Delmonico in New Orleans. Two more restaurants quickly followed in 1999 — Emeril's Orlando at Universal Studios and Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas. In January 2002, Emeril's Tchoup Chop opened its doors in Orlando. In August 2003, Emeril's Atlanta opened its doors, followed by Emeril's Miami Beach in November. In addition to his restaurants is a series of books, including There's a Chef in My Family and Emeril's Pot Luck.
In 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating and important life skills. To date, the Foundation has given more than $4 million to children’s causes in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast.
Today Emeril is the chef/proprietor of 12 restaurants across the country and the best-selling author of 15 cookbooks. Despite his success, Emeril remains devoted as ever to using fresh top-quality ingredients and employs cottage industry ranchers, farmers and fishermen to ensure he always gets the best. He constantly invents new recipes, much to the delight of his regular customers and the fans of his Food Network specials and shows, including Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril.
Emeril lives with his wife, Alden, son Emeril Jr. and daughter Meril.