WTVC Exclusive: Emeril Legasse
This week I was lucky enough to attend a luncheon and interview session with super star chef Emeril Legasse. Chef was in town plugging both his new TV show Emeril’s Table and also his newest cookbook Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders.
The event was sponsored by Page & Palette and featured a menu of recipes from Emeril’s new book as prepared by the staff at The Wash House. The menu included Chicken Pot Pie w/ Biscuit top, Mussels in a green curry, Pozole, Grits & Grillades and Key Lime Bread Pudding. While everything was good, the mussels and Pozole were easily the best dishes. The interview was conducted by good friend and Mobile Press Register food editor David Holloway. However, I was able to ask one question.
ME: Chef, when you first came to New Orleans you were replacing one of the nation’s great chefs in Paul Prudhomme at one of America’s most historic restaurants, Commander’s Palace. Can you speak to what it was like taking the helm of such an important restaurant?
Emeril: Well, and thank you for mentioning Chef Paul. That guy is one of the real greats. It was an honor to follow him at what is one of the truly great American restaurants. When I took over at Commander’s I wanted to subtly make changes. I wanted to maintain the standard already set by Chef Paul and the Brennan family but at the same time start slipping in dishes that were my own and that reflected my interpretation of Louisiana cooking.
In the kitchen, I was kind of like the coach of a football team. If I called play 61 you don’t run play 62. You run the play I called. That’s how I was, I showed the way I wanted things to be done and I expected them to be done that way. And we were making everything from scratch and by everything I mean even ketchup and mayonnaise and even Worcestershire Sauce.
I wanted everything done right and I was not tolerant of things not being done right. When I first started I had a staff of 19, after a rough couple of days dealing with attitudes I fired nine people in one night. Nine out of 19. It was tough the next couple of days but I replaced them and we moved on.
See, I only needed the one question. Chef also announced that he was about to open another new restaurant in Charlotte but I’m not sure of the name or the cuisine. I got some footage of the event including some of David’s interview with Emeril. Watch it: