Though celebrity chefs are a dime a dozen nowadays, Emeril Lagasse was the first to parlay his celebrity status into an empire. Emeril’s 18 best-selling cookbooks, 14 restaurants, line of branded products (including food products like pasta sauces, marinades, salsas and spices, two lines of kitchen knives, a cookware line, and kitchen appliances) demonstrate that not only is Emeril an incredible chef in his own right, he’s also a very savvy businessman. His inclusion on this list should come as no surprise to anyone who’s followed his meteoric rise to stardom since he started his career in 1985.
In 1985, Emeril took over for Paul Prudhomme (another legendary chef) as the executive chef at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, and during his seven-year tenure, he gained fame and notoriety. His first restaurant, Emeril’s in New Orleans, was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire magazine in 1990, and since 1999, Emeril’s has won the Wine Spectator magazine “Grand Award.” Emeril himself has won “Best Chef: Southeast” by the James Beard Foundation in 1991, “Chef of the Year” by GQ magazine in 1998, “Executive of the Year” by Restaurants & Institutions magazine in 2004, the 2005 Wine Spectator magazine “Distinguished Service Award,” a Lifetime Achievement Award from Food Network, “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation in 2013, and has been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame and the Taste Hall of Fame.
Specialties & Resources
The son of a French-Canadian father and a Portuguese mother, Emeril has drawn upon the cultural culinary influences of his parents during his career. Emeril’s cooking style is a blend of Cajun, Portuguese, Creole and French influences, and his background shows through in the menus at his restaurants.
At Emeril’s in New Orleans, you can find evidence of these influences in the menu items. Offerings include house-made andouille and boudin sausages with braised collard greens, turbodog onions, whole grain mustard and Worcestershire sauce; cast-iron baked escargots with fresh angel hair, bagna cauda-parsley butter, bottarga, pancetta and parmesan; steamed mussels with sweet corn, oven-dried tomatoes and pancetta crumbs; grilled salmon with buttered farro, tomato-okra-corn stew, and smoked ham hock; char-grilled hanger steak with tahini potatoes, smoked sweet onion, fresh horseradish, and green tomato seed-roasted chili oil; jerk head-on shrimp with saffron broken rice and peas, charred cabbage & peas, and peach-pepper preserves; barbecued shrimp with petite rosemary biscuit and chives; lacquered duck fried rice with duck egg, local greens and peach-mustard duck sauce; and andouille-crusted drum with grilled vegetables, shoestring potatoes, glazed pecans and creole meuniere.