Emeril Lagasse chose to pursue a culinary arts degree, which he had to pay for, over a full music scholarship, because he felt a culinary career posed a greater challenge.
How Did Emeril Get Started?
Emeril says that initially his parents were disappointed when he opted for a culinary arts career over a full scholarship to study music. Following graduation from culinary arts school, Emeril was off to Paris and Lyon to learn classic French cuisine. He returned to the States to practice the culinary arts in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia before he heard the siren call of the Big Easy, where he donned the chef's 'white hat' at the famed Commander's Table restaurant in 1982.
Why is Emeril Lagasse Famous?
"Bam!" and "Kick it up a notch!" pretty much says it all. Emeril calls his style "Real New Orleans cooking, with a flair." He flamboyantly blends the culinary influences of Portuguese, Caribbean, and Vietnamese cultures with Cajun and Creole culinary traditions. "What I did," he says, "is never disrespect it."
A Successful Culinary Career
The successful opening of Emeril's Restaurant in 1990 spawned the creation of eight more restaurants over the next thirteen years. In total, Lagasse has nine restaurants--three in New Orleans, two each in Las Vegas and Orlando, one in Atlanta, and one in Miami--which have garnered more than 40 prestigious restaurant awards. Emeril has received impressive recognition from the culinary community in his career as an uberchef and restaurateur.
Lagasse, recently named by Forbes.com as one of the top ten most influential American chefs, has filmed more than 1,500 TV episodes of the Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live, two of the most popular food shows on the Food Network. In his spare time, he has written eleven cookbooks and partnered with a number of international companies such as Wedgwood, Hillshire Farms, and Fetzer Wineries to promote Emeril-approved products, such as foodstuffs, appliances, cookware, stoneware, wines, and even kitchen clogs.
Name: Emeril J. Lagasse III
Born: October 15, 1959
Hometown: Fall River, MA
Training: Culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales University (1978)
First Job: Baked bread and pastry at a Portuguese bakery when he was 10-years-old
Famous Quote: "Pork fat rules."