Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse is renowned for his exuberant personality and the BAM!-worthy flavors in his signature “New New Orleans” style cuisine, that have lead to more than 20 restaurants, 21 cookbooks, a hit cookware line, Emmy-nominated television series and his most recent project, The Emeril Collection including Emeril Cooks on Roku. But when asked about his tremendous success, the no-nonsense 63-year-old says one of his greatest achievements has been raising his four children.
So for this year’s special Father’s Day issue of Woman’s World on sale now, we invited Emeril to do a photo shoot and share his insight into fatherhood, his relationship with his own dad and all the flavor-packed grilling recipes that bring his whole family to the table. Here’s a behind the scenes sneak peek!
Emeril Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane
When Emeril walked into photographer Zach Smith‘s New Orleans studio last April, wearing a crisp white double breasted chef’s coat, black pants and a big smile, he looked ready to start whipping up his famous creole fried chicken. But he got right down to business, posing, grinning and working the camera—and the room—while sharing stories, laughs, and a little look into his past.
Growing up in Fall River, Massachusetts, with a French-Canadian father, Emeril Lagasse Junior, and a Portuguese mother, Hilda, young Emeril fell in love with the symphonic flavors of his dual heritage. He frequently cooked with his mother and visited his father’s extended family in Louisiana, which exposed him to the vibrant cuisines with unforgettable flavors and unique culinary techniques. It was there that Emeril developed an appreciation for ingredients such as crawfish, andouille sausage, okra, and an array of spices that would later become staples in his recipes.
After graduating from high school, Emeril enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Here, he received formal training in the culinary arts, honing his skills and expanding his knowledge under the guidance of experienced chefs. Following graduation, Emeril worked at various establishments in France, including the Michelin-starred restaurants of esteemed chefs such as Paul Bocuse and Roger Vergé. These experiences allowed him to further develop his culinary skills, master classic French techniques, and broaden his understanding of global cuisine.
Emeril’s Rise to Stardom
Emeril’s breakthrough moment came when he was appointed as the executive chef at the legendary Commander’s Palace in New Orleans in 1982. During his tenure, he catapulted the restaurant to new heights, earning critical acclaim and numerous accolades for his innovative cooking style and ability to combine classic techniques with bold flavors.
Emeril’s charm and talent caught the attention of television producers, leading to his first cooking show, “How to Boil Water,” which aired in 1993. This was followed by the highly successful “Essence of Emeril,” which aired for over a decade. Emeril’s infectious enthusiasm, catchphrases like “BAM!” and his signature dishes, such as his famous “Emeril’s Essence” spice blend, made him a household name and endeared him to audiences worldwide. “I put my all-purpose creole seasoning on just about everything!” he says of Emeril’s Essence.
Emeril Cooks Up a Legacy of Love
Emeril’s culinary passion ultimately blossomed into superstardom, but his family stayed as important as his food. “I’m so blessed to say that my father is still alive—he’s 94 years old and thank God, is still as active as he can possibly be,” Emeril told Woman’s World. “We have a great relationship: I learned all my patience and listening from him. And he still goes to work every day!”
In fact, every day the chef’s dad still opens the doors of Emeri’s New Orleans flagship eatery—also aptly named “Emeril’s”—which has been operating since 1990, the same year he helped to launch the Food Network we all know and love today.
Following in Emeril’s Footsteps
This Father’s Day, Emeril admits he will be in the trenches with a lot of other hard-working dads out there: “I’m actually working on Fathers’ Day because it’s one of the busiest days in the restaurant business,” he shares. “But afterwards, I’m kicking back, having a good glass of wine and a simple meal with family. That would be a perfect ending to the day for sure.”
Even more perfect, he’ll be celebrating the bonds he shares his children, two daughters from his first marriage, Jessica and Jillian, and daughter, Meril, and son, Emeril Lagasse IV “EJ”, who at 19 years old, is following in his father’s footsteps after studying culinary arts at Johnson & Wales, and is set to take the reins at Emeril’s New Orleans restaurant.
Emeril smiles wisely when asked the question, what’s his secret is to being a great dad—and now grandfather? “Listening and patience,” he affirms. “I think just being understanding and being a good listener is a really great start. Life is full of challenges, but my favorite memories of my kids are just cooking for them, also cooking for my dad, or just sharing a meal. Sharing the family table goes a long way.”
Emeril Kicking It Up a Notch—Behind The Scenes
Pick up this week’s issue of Woman’s World to read more about Emeril’s family, romance tips, stress solutions and best of all his guide to all things grilled! In the meantime, enjoy our chef-extraordinaire striking a pose:
Emeril brandishing his favorite grilling essentials.
Scrolling through his best action shots.
Time for a wardrobe change!
The final result! Look for copies in your local grocery store or subscribe and save here!