“Bam was really intended to wake the camera crews up after the lunch break on long days filming Emeril Live,” said Emeril Lagasse. “It became something that people associated with me and the show, so it holds positive nostalgic memories for me and that time in my life.”
With countless awards, chart topping cookbooks and shows, and successful restaurants Emeril is a culinary legend and a household name. Yet, at the core, he is a chef with a passion to create delicious dishes and share his passion for cooking with others.
“Cooking is a terrific hobby because it can feel so rejuvenating. As you combine raw ingredients to create something totally new, you can find quiet, peaceful moments while chopping, stirring, or sautéing that take you away from the stresses of everyday life, "said Emeril. “The fact that you can then share your creations with friends and family and nourish them with your efforts is just the best feeling. It’s why I got into this business in the first place.” Emeril’s career was inspired by his mother. He remembers watching his mom in the kitchen and admiring the positive attitude she possessed and shared as she prepared meals for their family.
Emeril has embodied his mother’s positivity and shared his passion for cooking with the world. His tips and insight are game changers for millions. We had a chance to chat with the culinary genius and he shared answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cooking.
What tips and advice do you have for the daily question we tackle each day, “What’s for dinner?”
Emeril: When it comes to figuring out what’s for dinner, I usually take my lead from what I find at the grocery store or my local farmer’s market that looks good. I find that when I cook with the seasons and start with ingredients that are at their peak, it’s hard to go wrong. Usually, I will have something in mind that I know my family loves, but when I come up empty, a trip to the grocery store usually sparks a thought or food memory that gets the ball rolling. I also find inspiration from recipe photos that I see posted on other chefs’ Instagram pages or by thumbing through a favorite cookbook or food magazine. If I have a busy week ahead, I try to cook things that might lead to a second meal. For instance, roasted chicken with a few simple sides can lead to a delicious leftover-based chicken soup, risotto, or stir-fry the next day.
What are your preferred meals to make that don’t require much time or preparation?
Emeril: My family is big on pasta, and I find that I can create entire meals around a simple pasta dish created with pantry staples that I always have on hand. With a package of dried pasta, a few slices of bacon (or pancetta), a bag of green peas from the freezer, an egg, and some good Parmesan cheese, I can make one of my family’s favorite pasta dishes in no time.
In terms of the number of days of the week, what is your perfect balance of cooking at home and going out to eat? Do you prefer to go out to eat once a week or more?
Emeril: Once maybe max, twice a week is usually the schedule for my family. When the kids are in school, we rarely go out to eat, opting for family dinner at home. Nowadays our schedules are a little different, but we still enjoy cooking and eating together at home. We do go out if someone is really craving something specific like sushi!
What are specific ingredients that you like to incorporate into meals to help build a body’s immune system? Are there ingredients you absolutely avoid? Is there ago-to spice you always use?
Emeril: I usually keep fresh veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale on hand; they add texture and a nutritional punch to almost any meal. I am also a huge fan of garlic and use a lot of it in my cooking, as well as fresh herbs such as Italian parsley, cilantro, and basil. I love pepper, too, whether it’s crushed red pepper, cayenne, or freshly ground black pepper. A sprinkle of pepper right before serving puts a finishing touch on a dish and brings it to life.
What’s a good technique to learn in the kitchen that will save time and elevate a dish?
Emeril: I like to make homemade stocks that can simmer away mostly unattended while relaxing at home on lazy days. After straining and cooling them, I freeze the min small amounts that can be pulled out and used as needed. Having homemade stock readily available really makes cooking things such as sauces, soups, and stews so much more flavorful.
What are your favorite places to travel for cuisine? And what advice do you have for someone traveling to another country to try out local cuisine?
Emeril: Right now, I am missing Europe. The last trip my son and I took together was to London, and boy, did we eat well. My advice to travelers is to do a moderate amount of research in advance to get a sense of what cuisine a place is known for. One of the best ways to understand and get areal sense of a place is to investigate what foods the locals eat and how any traditions around food shape their culture. You can learn so much about a place through food and the people.
Emeril’s curiosity and willingness to share has impacted so many lives. We can all learn a valuable lesson from the culinary genius. “You can learn so much about a place through food and the people.”
For more information or to check out Emeril’s latest recipes, check out www.emerils.com.