I never did understand the appeal of television chefs, but I always did like Emeril Lagasse. But Emeril was always more than just a cook. He's probably the best pure showman who just happens to be working in the food industry.
Chef, restaurateur, television personality. Born 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...