Emeril Lagasse has a new book, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, and a new show starting September 26 on the Hallmark Channel, Emeril's Table, but he still made time to chat with Grub Street about everything from making peace in the foodie universe, to helping strangers in the supermarket, to visiting Aldea totally incognito.
In a cutthroat food scene, it seems no one talks trash about you ... what are you doing right?
There's enough drama in the real world, I really stay out of it in the food world. I find it to be a huge waste of time, and the biggest thing about me is that I maximize my time. I work hard and I sleep well; I try to have a little purpose in each day. There's no room for that kind of nonsense in my life. If I'm confronted with negativity, all I can think is, You can't be everything to everybody.
Still, don't you want to see your friends, Anthony and Paula, kiss and make up?
I actually do. It might be a good idea to have them both to dinner on the show; maybe I could bring together the friendship finally. But they both have such different palates, I'm not sure what I'd make. Paula would want hearty; Anthony would want adventurous. It would be something with pork, for sure. Paula loves pork, that much I know. Maybe like a trata dish?
Do you consider yourself a food snob?
Absolutely not. I mean, I can go to any regular restaurant and find good about it. And sometimes I do things like buy chicken stock instead of making it homemade. But I draw the line at salted bouillons; I'd never do that! And my children will never, ever eat at fast-food restaurants. It's strictly not allowed. But that stuff doesn't make me a food snob, I don't think?
Where do you eat in New York?
I'm a big, big fan of anything Mario Batali and Daniel Boulud. I go to Brio in my neighborhood and it's pretty spot-on. I went to Aldea recently, because I'm Portuguese. Let me tell you, George Mendes is a very talented guy. I can't wait to go back. I went incognito because I didn't want him to worry. And I'll be back soon, that's for sure.
Give us a clue about your secret costume?
Oh, I can't say! Maybe I wore one of those big Gael Greene hats. I need to start wearing that at grocery stores, too. These two giggling young women approached me the other day at Food Emporium in New York because they lost a bet and had to cook for their boyfriends, but neither knew how to turn on a stove! So first I took them over the endive and radicchio, and told them all they needed to do for a salad was use a little olive oil, maybe some lemon juice or vinegar; you should have seen their faces. Then I helped them with a pasta — had them buy some sausage, to brown, high-quality bought tomato sauce, preferably mine, a little garlic, and parmigiana. I'm still wondering how it turned out!
That's so nice! Bobby Flay, for example, probably wouldn't have done that. Hey, you watching him on Entourage this season?
No. What is that? Why? Is he on that show? I only watch sports and the news. I'm telling you, there's little room in my life for anything without real meaning.