Emeril Lagasse no longer has his namesake restaurant at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, but that doesn’t mean the celebrity chef isn’t still loving on the area. Lagasse’s latest show, Cooking Channel’s Emeril’s Florida (2:30 p.m. Sundays), is devoted to all things food-related in the Sunshine State.
That’s not all: The 55-year-old father of four (third and current wife is real estate pro Alden Lovelace) will kick things up a notch Friday night for the South Beach Wine & Food Fest to host “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown,” presented by The Captain Morgan Rum Company.
Why did you decide to do a show based in Florida?
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I’ve been vacationing there ever since I moved to New Orleans about 30 years ago, and I have two restaurants in Orlando. There is so much to offer for tourists and locals alike. The dining scene has really exploded, and the agricultural and seafood offerings are some of the best around.
What has been one of your favorite stops so far?
You know, it’s really hard to choose. Every place I’ve featured has been outstanding and has such character. One of the spots I discovered while filming is Blue Moon Fish Company in Fort Lauderdale. It’s an awesome spot and, with me being a fisherman, really fresh fish with a picturesque water view is hard to beat in my book.
Your flagship restaurant in New Orleans, Emeril’s, is celebrating 25 years in March. Are you going to throw a party?
Hard to believe. It’s a huge milestone, and we will absolutely be celebrating. We are incredibly thankful to all our customers who have and continue to support us and what we love to do. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the beginning and relook at some of the classic dishes. We keep growing and evolving.
What advice could you have given yourself 25 years ago that would have come in handy now?
I’ve always been a big believer that in order to be successful you have to really be passionate about what you’re doing. I still make sure that I believe in and am committed to projects that excite me.
You were a pioneer in the celebrity chef genre. Who are some current personalities on your radar?
Truthfully, I don’t watch much TV, but I am amazed at how many food shows there are today. It’s exciting to see that there is a true desire in viewers to watch them. So many chefs are raising the bar on teaching the American public how to cook and so many home cooks have reached new levels because of food programming.
What are some food trends you are noticing so far for 2015?
I’ve been seeing a lot of ramen popping up on menus and not just traditional ramen noodles.
What is a typical day like for you?
There really is no typical day, I still travel quite a bit, especially to my restaurants throughout the country, so when I’m there I’m typically collaborating with the chefs on new ideas, and I still like to get back in the kitchen. When I’m not on the road, I love being at home with my family.
Are you looking forward to the South Beach Wine & Food Fest? What makes it stand out?
Absolutely. I’ve been involved with the festival since its inception, and it’s something I love doing. Think about it: the country’s most talented chefs in the most vibrant and tropical city in the country. What’s not to love? This year I’ll be hosting “Art of the Tiki,” a cocktail showdown, where eight top bartenders will compete with their cocktail creations. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they whip up.
What other news do you have?
I’m working on a cookbook due to come out in the fall, Essential Emeril. It will highlight my top 100 favorite recipes of all time, so it’s been a really meaningful project.