Cellar & galley
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.