Thursday, July 28, 2011


Emeril Lagasse and Valerie Phillips.   Photo by Kim Phillips
Emeril Lagasse's new show in the Hallmark Channel, "Emeril's Table," debuts Monday, September 26 at 9 a.m. Mountain time (11 a.m. Eastern).  The daily program features Lagasse sharing his love of food with five lucky guests seated at his chef's table. The guests vary in background, such as newlyweds, busy moms, firefighters, and vegetarians.

In a press release, Lagasse is quoted as saying, "Some of my most fulfilling memories have been in the kitchen preparing a meal with my family and friends, and 'Emeril's Table' creates that same kind of connection.  Food brings us all a little closer together and I hope that as we’re gathering around my table each day everyone will invite us in to their kitchens and be inspired to cook along." 
Lagasse is the culinary icon who put the Food Network on the map. Two years ago, I was able to meet Lagasse at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans.  
He knew my name ... at least for a minute.
I was attending a Taste of New Orleans event at the The Southern Food and Beverage Museum. A half-dozen or so prominent restaurants were stationed throughout the museum, serving a "tasting" portion of a signature dish.
And His Royal Bam-ness was there, offering Pork Cheeks with Dirty Rice from Emeril's Delmonico, one of three new Orleans restaurants he owns.
"Hello Valerie," he said as he shook my hand.
"Oh my gosh! Emeril knows me!" was my first elated thought. Then I realized he had simply read my name tag, as he was doing with everyone else. Still, this small gesture went a long way in charming people, and perhaps indicates how Emeril has gotten where he is today.  
.We had a few minutes to chat, and he said he splits a lot of his time between New York and New Orleans, where his corporate office and three of his restaurants are located. And, he visits his restaurants in Florida and Las Vegas, too. He now has 12 restaurants and 15 cookbooks under his belt.
"So I'm still doing my thing 30 years later," he told me. 
Indeed, the "Emeril Empire" has grown substantially since he graduated from Johnson & Wales University's culinary arts college in 1978. In 1982, he replaced Paul Prudhomme as chef of the highly respected Commander's Palace in New Orleans. His first cookbook, "Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking," came out in 1993, before the airwaves and cyberspace became deluged with TV cooking shows, food blogs and Web sites.
That led to his "Essence of Emeril" and "Emeril Live!" TV shows. At one point, he was the fledgling Food Network's biggest star. But in 2008, he became part of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
How does he manage it all?
"It's called having great people," he said. "I'm very fortunate to have people who have been with me for 20 or 25 years."
  “Emeril’s Table” is produced for Hallmark Channel by Emeril Primetime Productions in association with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Martha Stewart and Fran Brescia-Coniglio are executive producers. The series is directed by Scott Preston

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