Humanitarian Award NOMINEE
Spotlight on New Orleans
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports and encourages programs creating developmental and educational opportunities for children within the communities where Emeril's restaurants operate.
Chef Emeril Lagasse received his first culinary experience from his mother, Hilda, when he was a boy growing up in the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts. As a teenager, he worked at a Portuguese bakery where he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking. Upon high school graduation, Lagasse was offered a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, but decided to pursue a career as a professional chef. He earned a degree from the respected culinary fortress, Johnson and Wales University, and later received an honorary Doctorate degree from the university. Lagasse then traveled to Paris and Lyon where he polished his skills and learned the art of classic French cuisine. Returning to the United States, Lagasse practiced his art in fine restaurants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia before heading south to the Big Easy. Lured to New Orleans by Dick and Ella Brennan, Lagasse established his star at their legendary restaurant, Commander's Palace, where he was executive chef for seven and a half years.
Lagasse is now the chef-proprietor of ten restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, and Gulfport, MS. In 1990, Chef Emeril opened Emeril’s Restaurant in the Warehouse District in downtown New Orleans. Two years later, he opened NOLA Restaurant in the French Quarter. In 1995, Emeril brought his “New New Orleans” cooking to Las Vegas and opened Emeril's New Orleans Fish House, located in the MGM Grand Hotel. In 1998, Lagasse opened Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans’ historic Garden District. He opened two restaurants in 1999 including Emeril’s Orlando at Universal Studios City Walk and Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venetian Resort/Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. In 2003, he opened Tchoup Chop (pronounced chop-chop) at Universal Orlando’s Royal Pacific Resort and Emeril’s Miami Beach at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. In June 2007, Lagasse opened, Emeril’s Gulf Coast Fish House at the Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, MS. In February 2008, he opened Table 10 at The Palazzo in Las Vegas.
The recognition and awards he has garnered have made him known to food-loving Americans everywhere. His restaurants consistently win critical praise and top ratings. Emeril's Restaurant was dubbed "Restaurant of the Year" by John Mariani in Esquire magazine in 1990 and received the coveted Wine Spectator "Grand Award" in 1991. Also in 1991, Lagasse was named "Best Southeast Regional Chef" by the James Beard Foundation. Most recently, Emeril's Restaurant earned the prestigious Ivy Award. Nola has achieved the status of "Best New Restaurant" by Esquire magazine in 1993 and has been recognized nationally by Travel & Leisure and Southern Living magazines. His third restaurant, Emeril's New Orleans Fish House was named "Best Restaurant in Las Vegas" by Zagat. In 2002, Delmonico Steakhouse was named "Best Steakhouse" by Las Vegas Life magazine. In 2004, Delmonico Steakhouse received the Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine.
Lagasse himself has also received accolades and awards for his culinary expertise. In 1991, Lagasse was named "Best Southeast Regional Chef" by the James Beard Foundation. In 1998 he was chosen as "Chef of the Year" by GQ magazine. In 1999, he was named one of People magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of the Year." In 2004, he was chosen as “Executive of the Year” by Restaurants & Institutions magazine. In 2005, he received the “Distinguished Service Award” from Wine Spectator for his significant and long-lasting contributions to the wine industry. In 2006, he was inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame by Nation’s Restaurant News. In 2007, he was named “Restaurateur of the Year” by New Orleans CityBusiness.
Chef Emeril Lagasse is a national TV personality. Lagasse joined the Food Network in 1993 and has hosted over 1600 shows on the network which reaches more than 85 million homes daily. He is the host of the "Essence of Emeril" and "Emeril Live" which is now in syndication. The former has been nominated for numerous Emmy Awards, and was voted by Time magazine as one of the "Top 10 TV Shows" in 1996. The latter has won a Cable Ace Award for "Best Informational Series." Chef Emeril is also the food correspondent for ABC’s "Good Morning America”. In July 2008, he will host “Emeril Green”, a new series exploring fresh and seasonal ingredients on Discovery Communications’ Planet Green - an eco-lifestyle network.
Lagasse is the best-selling author of twelve 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. As of 2005, 4.2 million copies of Lagasse’s books have been sold.
In September 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support and encourage programs creating developmental and educational opportunities for children. Each fall, the Foundation hosts its annual Carnivale du Vin, a premiere wine and food event to benefit the children of the New Orleans region. In November 2007, Lagasse announced funding for the future Emeril Lagasse Culinary Learning Center which will be located at Café Reconcile in New Orleans.
Lagasse's corporate office, Emeril's Homebase, is located in New Orleans and houses restaurant operations, a culinary test kitchen for cookbook and recipe development, the emerils.com website, and a boutique store for his signature products.
Emeril Lagasse joined the Martha Stewart family of brands in April 2008, when Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia acquired the assets related to Lagasse’s media and merchandising business, including television programming, cookbooks, emerils.com website and his licensed kitchen and food products.