Chef Profile : Emeril Lagasse

International Chef Database - Maneet Chauhan



Chef Profile : Emeril Lagasse

Known for his energetic personality, witty catchphrases, and ability to cook up a storm in the kitchen, Emeril Lagasse rose to fame and became one of the most recognizable chefs in the United States. This American chef, author, and television personality has always been fascinated with food. 

When Emeril was as small as seven years old, he begged his mother to teach him how to make vegetable soup, and well, the rest is history. After several attempts, he finally got the soup right and that kind of marked the beginning of Emeril’s epic journey in the culinary world. 

Read on to know more about this talented genius and discover some interesting facts about your favorite chef, Emeril Lagasse. 

1. Quick Facts About Emeril Lagasse

Name: Emeril John Lagassé III 

Date of Birth: October 15, 1959

Birthplace: ​​Fall River, Massachusetts, United States of America 


  • Elizabeth Kief ​(married from 1978 to ⁠1986)​
  • Tari Hohn ​(married from 1989 to ⁠1996)​
  • Alden Lovelace ​(married in 2000)​

Name of Restaurants: 

New Orleans
  • Emeril’s
  • NOLA Restaurant 
  • Emeril’s Delmonico
  • Meril
    Miramar Beach
    • Emeril’s Coastal
    Las Vegas
    • Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House
    • Delmonico Steakhouse
    • Emeril’s Chop Shop
    • Burgers and More by Emeril 

    2. About Emeril’s Life

    Emeril Lagasse was born in Massachusetts, U.S.A., to a French-Canadian family from Quebec. His father, Emeril John Lagasse, Jr., and Portuguese mother, Hilda Medeiros came from a very simple background. His love and passion for food were ignited as a young boy when he spent hours in the kitchen with his mother. 

    As a teenager, Lagasse got the chance to work in a Portuguese bakery where he discovered his true potential and talent for cooking. It was during this phase that he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking. Subsequently, he even ended up enrolling in a culinary arts program. 

    Upon high school graduation, Lagasse went on to turn down a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time chef. After years of enhancing his skills, he earned a degree from the prestigious culinary haven, Johnson and Wales University, and many years later received an honorary doctorate from the university. 

    Eager to broaden his culinary horizons, he embarked upon a new journey to Paris and Lyon, France where he polished his skills and learned the delicate art of classic French cuisine. On his return to the United States, he practiced this art in high-end restaurants in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Well, that was only until a job offer from Dick and Ella Brennan took him away to New Orleans. 

    After helming the kitchen for nearly eight years at the legendary Commander’s Palace, Lagasse decided to set out on his own. He started his thrilling endeavor with his flagship, Emeril’s Restaurant, in New Orleans’ popular Warehouse Districts. 

    In the past 31 years, Lagasse has successfully built his empire and managed to reach the top in this competitive industry. Lagasse has opened 21 restaurants across the United States and is currently the chef-proprietor of eleven restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Miramar Beach, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras Ship.  

    This star chef has not only garnered a truckload of recognitions and awards but also has an army of food-loving Americans that love and support him unconditionally. The proof of this is the fact that he has consistently won critical praise and top ratings. In 1990, Emeril’s Restaurant was crowned “Restaurant of the Year” by John Mariani in Esquire Magazine. 

    In 1991, he went on to receive the coveted Wine Spectator “Grand Award”. In the same year, Lagasse was also named “Best Southeast Regional Chef” by the James beard Foundation. 

    If so many accolades were not enough, here are a few more. Emeril’s Restaurant also earned the prestigious Ivy Award. In 1993, his restaurant NOLA also achieved the status of “Best New Restaurant” by Esquire Magazine and has also been recognized nationally by well-reputed magazines like Travel & Leisure and Southern Living. Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House was also named “Best Restaurant in Las Vegas” by Zagat. 

    Did you know that Emeril’s restaurant has also received a “Grand Award” from Wine Spectator every year, I repeat, EVERY YEAR, since 2000? His restaurant received this recognition for its robust and varied wine list that pairs perfectly with its delicious meals.

    Later in 2006, he also received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival. For his extraordinary contribution to the American culinary industry, he was also featured in the 2012 Smithsonian exhibit “Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000”. 

    Today, Emeril’s corporate office is located in downtown New Orleans and houses restaurant operations, as well as a cookbook and recipe development, an extensive culinary test kitchen, product shipping, and a store with his signature products.

    3. Emeril's Personality

    Other than being known as a celebrity chef with his own line of yummy products, anyone who has interacted with Lagasse would have also noticed the fact that he has one of the most engaging and boisterous personalities ever. 

    He was the pioneer of Food Network and his two shows, “The Essence of Emeril” and “Emeril Live” nudged this small-scale cable station in the direction of fame and fortune. Emeril Lagasse is not only famous for his bold Cajun cuisine but also for shouting “Bam!”, and the story behind it goes something like this… 

    When he was shooting for the show, he noticed that everyone on set was practically sleeping because they would land up stuffing their faces with food. So when he saw any of them nodding off, he’d yell ‘BAM!’ to wake them up. Soon after, “Bam!” became a regular catchphrase for this chef. 

    Other than this, he had two other catchphrases that he used in his restaurant and television shows very often- “kick it up a notch” and “it ain’t rocket science”. While these worked well with his fans and community, nothing compared to the popularity of one loud and energetic “BAM!” 

    4. Television Shows

    As a national TV personality, Emeril has hosted lots of shows for major networks. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular TV Shows that he was a part of: 


    Television Show


    How to Boil Water: He was the original host of this show that aired on Food Network.  


      Essence of Emeril: Hosted by Emeril Lagasse, in this show he shares with his viewers some of his “kicked-up” recipes. Some episodes also saw appearances made by friends and workers. 


        Emeril Live: This show went on to win a Cable Ace Award for “Best International Show” of 1997. 


          Good Morning America: He became the correspondent for this show that aired on ABC and continues to be part of that family even today. 


            Emeril: He briefly starred in a TV sitcom in which he played a fictionalized version of himself. 


              Emeril Green: This show aired on Discovery Channel’s eco-lifestyle network, Planet Green. The show focused on cooking with organic and locally grown produce and promoted a healthy lifestyle. 


                Top Chef


                  The Emeril Lagasse Show: Lagasse also hosted a weekly variety program. 


                    Emeril’s Table: He hosted the Hallmark Channel show. However, it was canceled after one season. 


                      Emeril’s Florida: Lagasse hosted this super successful show that aired for 5 seasons from 2013 to 2017. 


                        On the Menu: Lagasse came on board as the Menu Master of this cooking competition show. 


                          Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse: Today, he hosts this show on Amazon Prime Video. The first season of this was released in 2016 and won a Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Culinary Program” in 2017. This show also features other international chefs like Mario Batali, Aaron Sanchez, and Jose Anders. 

                            5. Books

                            This talented chef is also a successful author of 19 best-selling cookbooks, including one which introduced his creative take on Creole cuisine. Let’s take a look at some of his creations:

                            Books by Emeril Lagasse


                            New New Orleans Cooking


                            Louisiana Real and Rustic


                            Emeril’s Creole Christmas


                            Emeril’s TV Dinners


                            Every Day’s a Party


                            Primetime Emeril


                            Emeril’s There’s a Chef in My Soup!: Recipes for the Kid in Everyone


                            From Emeril’s Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from Emeril’s Restaurants


                            Emeril’s There’s a Chef in my Family!: Recipe to Get Everybody Cooking


                            Emeril’s Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude


                            Emeril’s Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past


                            Emeril’s There’s a Chef in My World!: Recipes That Take You Places


                            Emeril 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast


                            Emeril at the  Grill: A Cookbook for All Seasons 


                            Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh


                            Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders


                            Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor


                            Emeril’s Cooking with Power: 100 Delicious Recipes Starring Your Slow Cooker, Multi-Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Deep Fryer


                            Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen


                            6. Media Appearances

                            Phew! After that extensive list of books by Emeril Lagasse, here are some of his other media appearances that shaped his career to what it is today: 


                            Media Appearances by Emeril Lagasse


                            Cooking with Master Chefs: He was one of the 16 young chefs to star with Julia Child.


                            Space Ghost Coast to Coast: He appeared on this animated show where he and other chefs prepared meals for “Space Ghosts”.


                            GQ Magazine: He was chosen as “Chef of the Year”.


                            People Magazine: He was named one of the “25 Most Intriguing People of the Year”


                          • Restaurants & Institutions Magazine: He was chosen as “Executive of the Year”.
                          • 2006

                            Last Holiday: He appeared as himself in the final scene of this film. He featured as the cooking inspiration for the lead character. 


                            Top Chef: He appeared as a judge on this popular cooking show. He also appeared in seasons 10 and 11 in Seattle and New Orleans.  


                            Jon and Kate Plus 8: He made an appearance on this show to celebrate the 100th episode.


                            Treme: He appeared as himself in this HBO drama. 

                            7. Charity Work

                            Back in 2002, he established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs. He supported programs that inspired and mentored young people through the journey of culinary arts. He also focused on school food, nutrition, and important life skills in this program. 

                            The Foundation funded projects that included an outdoor classroom, gardens, fresh foods cafeteria, and teaching kitchen essentials at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. This was an accessible learning kitchen for students with special needs at St. Micheal Special School. He also helped set up a culinary learning center for hospitality training for at-risk youth at Café Reconcile. 

                            Emeril went on to dedicate the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Arts Studio for the Creative Arts. Originally, this was a four-year culinary arts program for high school students with a master-apprentice curriculum at New Orleans Center. 

                            Each fall, this foundation hosts two mega fundraisers: Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer and Carnivale du Vin. The latter has consistently ranked among the “Top Ten U.S. Charity Wine Auctions” according to Wine Spectator Magazine. This foundation has successfully distributed $15 million in grants to different children’s charities in New Orleans, Last Vegas, and the Gulf Coast. 

                            In 2013, he was also named the “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. He was given this honor for his dedicated efforts to further the culinary arts in America and his philanthropic work by helping children’s educational programs through the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

                            8. Fun Facts About Emeril

                            Here are some fun facts about this star chef that I bet you didn’t know: 

                            Fun Fact #1: It IS Rocket Science

                            He is the first celebrity chef ever to develop meals for NASA astronauts. He was also the first person to have those dishes served in space. 

                            Fun Fact #2: Call him Doctor

                            This culinary genius went on to receive an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wales University after earning a degree from the culinary institution. 

                            Fun Fact #3: Chef since the beginning

                            The very talented Emeril assumed the head post at New Orleans posh restaurant “Commander’s Palace” at the young age of 23. Here, he worked as the executive chef for seven and a half years straight. 

                            Fun Fact #4: From Warehouse to Restaurant

                            Emeril opened his flagship restaurant in 1990 in a building that was once a pharmaceutical warehouse on the edge of downtown New Orleans. 

                            Fun Fact #5: Work Hard, Play Harder 

                            As a young boy, he worked at A Portuguese Bakery. He would get to the bakery early in the morning, work a full shift and then head to school. Today, this hard-working young man is the proud recipient of tons of awards and accolades. 

                            Fun Fact #6: Farm First 

                            Emeril and Pride of San Juan run a farm together in California. Here, they grow a wide range of seasonal produce, lettuces, and herbs. 

                            Fun Fact #7: 1 Pie, 10 Bananas

                            One of the most widely loved dishes prepared by this chef is his Banana Cream Pie. Not only are these pies baked freshly every morning and piped with whipped cream, but each pie is made of 10 bananas. If you do the math, that means about 52,000 bananas are used each year by the restaurant.   

                            Fun Fact #8: Made From Scratch

                            The unique thing about Emeril’s signature restaurants is the fact that everything is made from scratch. From the pasta to sausages and even Worcestershire sauce, it’s all MADE FROM SCRATCH! 

                            Fun Fact #9: Something Fishy

                            When he is not in the kitchen, cooking up something delicious for his guests, friends, or family, Emeril is often found fishing on the Gulf Coast. Fishing is his favorite outdoor activity. 

                            Fun Fact #10: Comfort Food 

                            Emeril’s favorite comfort is some good old fried shrimp with crunchy potato chips and a chilled root beer.

                            9. Social Presence

                            Chef Emeril is constantly experimenting with ingredients, cooking up new dishes, testing unique recipes, and sharing his life with his fans via social media. If you also want to stay up to date with everything that’s going on with Emeril, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

                            10. Frequently Asked Questions

                            What has happened to Emeril Lagasse?

                            Back in 2017, Emeril has to close Tchoup Chop. Later, in 2018, he also had to shut down Emeril’s Restaurant in Orlando. He still owns a few restaurants in the country which might see a spike in business owing to his return to television. 

                            Is Emeril Lagasse Italian?

                            No, he is not Italian. Chef Emeril was born in Massachusetts to a French-Canadian father, Emeril Jr., and a Portuguese mother, Hilda. 

                            What was Emeril Lagasse’s catchphrase?

                            Emeril Lagasse is an award-winning chef with a dozen restaurants in his name, yet he is most popularly known for his trademark catchphrase “Bam!”.

                            What is Emeril's nationality?

                            Emeril is an American chef. 

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                            Written by Himani Vaid
                            Toronto-based food nerd turned food storyteller, Himani is a connoisseur of all things delish. Currently, busy thinking about what to eat next.

                            Chef Profile : Emeril Lagasse

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