Cel­lar & gal­ley

Yachts International - - Yachts International - Hid­den tal­ent

a bet­ter over­all ex­pe­ri­ence for the cap­tains and fish­er­men—and al­low­ing the same per­sonal touch that has de­fined the chef ’s ca­reer since his early days on the Food Net­work with his “Essence of Emeril” and “Emeril Live” shows.

“When I started at the Food Net­work, a lot of crit­ics called me out,” Lagasse re­calls. “They said I was sell­ing out. You know, I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand the cam­era. But then one day it just kind of clicked—I fig­ured out how to be my­self. Crit­ics will be crit­ics, but when you’re real, peo­ple get that.”

And when you’re not real, peo­ple no­tice too, whether it’s at a char­ity fish­ing tour­na­ment or when try­ing out a new restau­rant.

“I want to be around big thinkers,” he says. “There’s a lot of restau­rants to choose from. Ev­ery part of the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence mat­ters. If the bread comes out and it’s not good qual­ity, that’s a strike for me. If I or­der soup, but there’s no love in that soup, that’s an­other strike. If they haven’t put any love into some­thing as sim­ple as a gumbo, why should I think there would be any love com­ing to my ta­ble mov­ing for­ward? At that point, I’m def­i­nitely check­ing the re­stroom, and if it’s not clean, then I’m out. Life’s too short to eat bad calo­ries.”

Lagasse is a peo­ple per­son through and through, and de­spite all of the glitz and glam­our of the celebrity cir­cus, he re­mains close to his roots, which took hold while fish­ing with his fa­ther and un­cle along the Gulf Coast.

“I ran into Capt. Brad [Ben­ton] 11 years ago, when I bought into a 65 Hat­teras named the Ole Miss,” he says. “We got re­ally into the tour­na­ment-fish­ing Lagasse and the writer chat in the en­closed fly­bridge on his 70-foot Vik­ing, cour­tesy of Emeril’s Restau­rant.

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