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Emeril Lagasse is a celebrity chef best known as the host of the television show Emeril Live, his lines of products and restaurants, and his catchphrases.
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Emeril Lagasse was born on October 15, 1959 in Fall River, Massachusetts. After attending culinary school, Lagasse opened his first restaurant in New Orleans in 1990. A few years later, Lagasse began appearing on the Food Network, eventually securing his own shows, Emeril's Essence and Emeril Live. In addition to television, Emeril has built an empire of products and restaurants.
Chef, restaurateur and television personality Emeril Lagasse was born on October 15, 1959, in the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts, where he was raised by his French-Canadian father, Emeril Jr., and his Portuguese mother, Hilda. While working at a local Portuguese bakery, the teenaged Lagasse developed a penchant for cooking. In 1973, he enrolled in the culinary arts program at Diman Vocational High School. Also a talented percussionist, Lagasse led the high school drum squad, playing at dances, banquets and numerous local religious festivals.
Upon his 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 spent the next year training at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. In order to pay his tuition, Lagasse took a job at a local restaurant, where he met fellow student Elizabeth Kief. The two married in October 1978, a few months after Lagasse completed his course work. Lagasse polished his skills in Paris and Lyon, France, before returning to the United States, where he spent the next few years working in fine restaurants throughout the Northeast.
In 1982, Lagasse replaced Paul Prudhomme as executive chef of the famed New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace. This demanding position, which required Lagasse to work 18 hours a day, put a strain on his marriage. Lagasse and his wife divorced in 1986, at which time Elizabeth and their two children moved back to Massachusetts.
After seven and a half years at Commander's Palace, Lagasse opened his first restaurant, Emeril's, in 1990. Located in New Orleans' underdeveloped Warehouse District, the menu fused elements of French, Spanish, Caribbean, Asian and Lagasse's native Portuguese cuisine. Immediately well received by patrons and critics, Emeril's was named Best New Restaurant of the Year by Esquire magazine. In 1992, riding on the heels of Emeril's success, Lagasse opened a second establishment, NOLA (an acronym for New Orleans, Louisiana). With its rustic cuisine and ornate décor, NOLA also garnered a positive reception from the culinary community.
In 1993, Lagasse published the bestselling cookbook Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking, which introduced his creative approach to Creole cuisine. Later that year, his growing popularity caught the eye of executives at cable television’s fledgling Food Network. After two failed programs (How to Boil Water and Emeril & Friends), the 1995 series, Essence of Emeril, immediately struck a cord with viewers.
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As a nation that loves to eat, we hold food, and the people who prepare it, close to our hearts. Though Julia Child was the original celebrity chef and cookbook personality, the boom in reality TV has led to a renewed interest in all the people who turn food into art. From cooking show competitors to chefs to the stars, we love to watch these talented individuals whip up all kinds of delicious dishes. To learn more, sift through this group of Famous Chefs, which includes chocolatier Jacques Torres, classic culinarian Julia Child, gourmet guru Alton Brown, "semi-homemade" cook Sandra Lee, Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray and many more.
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