Sunday, April 18, 2010

Interview: A New Side of Emeril Lagasse

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse is back with The Emeril Lagasse Show, a new original nonscripted series that will premiere on ION Television tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET. This new weekly variety hour will combine Emeril’s love of food, entertaining, music and fun as he lets the good times roll, and shows us that there’s more to him than meets the BAM!

Platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated bandleader Dave Koz along with house band The Kozmos will join Emeril each week to dish about the latest news and cuisine as he shares his world, his friends and his passion for food with the studio and home audience. Each week of the show will feature different guests and a themed celebration, kicking off, of course, with a housewarming party for the neighbors – and who better to invite than ultimate hostess, Martha Stewart? Themes for later episodes include “Guys Night,” “Sports Night,” “BAM for your Buck,” “Blasts from the Past,” “Do It Yourself,” “Emeril’s Fiesta” and more, with celebrities like Eli Manning, Jennie Garth, Mario Batali, Tim Gunn, Steve Schirripa, Sammy Hagar and even Elmo, among others.

I had the chance to chat with Emeril recently about his new show, and we are both excited for fans to get the chance to see his new show.

Celebrity Extra: We all know you for your cooking shows and your warm and entertaining personality, so it seems only natural that you'd host a variety/talk show. I watched the first episode and really loved it - this seems a natural fit for you. How did this opportunity come about for you?

Emeril Lagasse: Well, the opportunity came about, because ION is finally beginning to start looking at original programming, and they wanted to have some sort of cooking element. But they just didn’t want a straight-on cooking show. So, as you know, I have been out of production with Emeril Live now for almost two years. And I did the Emeril Green Show - just kind of a little different format and had I think some good success with that in helping Planet Green launch. And this opportunity came and it was kind of right up my alley. As a matter of fact, the first show that we did after the rehearsal, I turned to Karen Katz, who’s my friend and co-executive producer, and I said, “This is kind of like almost like being right back at home.” Except we are adding a lot more variety to it a lot more fun. It’s like a gigantic party actually.

And you know Dave Koz is a wonderful human being. Very, very talented musician and he works in really great musicians for the table. So that was another perfect piece of the puzzle for me. And just the timing worked out great, and I personally hope that people feel the same way that you and I do. I think it’s a really, really great show, I really do. And I hope that it succeeds on ION. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t, but as you know, when you are in the business, you just never know what’s going to happen as far as timing and all of that stuff. I’m really thrilled about it. I love that there’s more to it than just cooking. There’s always at least a guest if not two. We try to always make the connection around food and entertaining and education. We’ve added some elements of fun in there as you know. I’m just really thrilled about it.

CE: How did you manage to score such a great musician as David Koz?

EL: I actually got really lucky, I’ll tell you the truth. I have a lot of respect for Doc Gibbs and those guys. Most of them are on the road right now so it was rather difficult trying to lure them back. Dave Koz had been a guest on my show at least two or three times, and not only is he just a great human being, but he is so talented and sort of has that magnet part of him when it comes to music. It just so happened that the timing for him worked out for the timing for me. I have never realized that Dave had never spent much time in New York. He had been to New York but it was basically to play a show and he was out of there. To get him to actually get him to come to New York for about three weeks was an incredible task. I think he really, really had a great experience and experienced the city and a whole different realm of people and way of life. He certainly brought an incredible bunch of gifted musicians, New York studio musicians. A lot of those guys are also very talented. One had toured with Rod Stewart. One has his own collection of records. It was just a good fit.

CE: I think it is so apropos that Martha Stewart was your first guest.

EL: Really warm person that she, it was just so Martha, that most of the things that she made came from her garden. We have some really great guests. We have a lot of great guests coming up both musicians and talented people that I think have a connection. I think the thing for us is that people need to have a little connection. It’s not just about something that you want to promote, but it’s really something about the connection with food and entertaining and cooking and just having fun. And I think that comes across with the show.

CE: Did she give you any advice for you to help get your new show off the ground?

EL: Martha and I are not only great friends, but we are also business partners. I’ve done her show a bunch of times, and she sort of does her thing and that’s what sort of makes her Martha; and she lets me kind of do my thing, so I’m just Emeril. And when the two of us sort of meet at the line, it’s pretty funny. It’s pretty entertaining because she does have a lot of experience. Basically her only message for me was, “You know, Emeril, if you are going to do this, just have fun.” And I think that you probably know me well enough by now that I don’t do too much in life if you don’t have fun.

CE: What can fans expect from this new show, and how is it different from your previous shows?

EL: As an example we wanted to break up the set, so we included that beginning section, which is what we call the bar section, and not that it’s necessarily a cocktail, but it could be anything from a smoothie to an hors d'oeuvres. There’s a little burner there that I can actually cook, so it switches up, whatever the connection with the guest is.

We had Sammy Hagar on, which was a great show. He’s a great musician, but Sammy just didn’t come to play. He came to not only play a song, but he came to actually play and be a part of the show. That was pretty hysterical. We’ve done some really fun pieces outside of the studio. And I kind of wanted to break it up a little bit so it kind of brings a little bit of the outside to the inside. There are a lot of those remotes where I have Em the street guy, and Emeril just outside of his element, and maybe it’s in a flower shop or maybe somebody is sick of working in a fish market or something like that. I think the whole thing is just to really have a lot of fun.

CE: Have any of your guests surprised you, or have their been any unexpected moments on the show?

EL: We had Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives. She’s been on that show for a long time. I didn’t realize that she lives with her husband and children in Los Angeles and doesn’t get to New York a lot, and I was very surprised, and I was kind of humbled at the same time, because she not only was a big fan back in the Emeril Live Days, but I kind of influenced her in learning how to cook. I didn’t know that. When she came on the show she began to start telling people that, and she was very, very comfortable doing the cooking segment with me, and we had a lot of fun together and really a great connection. It’s just been a lot a lot of fun. I hope people get excited about it and I hope it lasts a long time because it’s fun doing.

CE: Are you excited to get the chance to show your fans, old and new, a different side of Emeril?

EL: Absolutely. I think that people who know me know that I’m very involved with my foundation, which is all about kids and just the whole education of kids, etc. So, there’s that side of me. There’s also the business side of me besides being a cook in a restaurant. So, I’m hoping that people will see that and see that, hey this guy is really having a lot of fun doing this. But at the same time I also want to give the message that what I do do in food is serious, and I am trying to break down the unknowns for people and not make it so frightening to get in the kitchen and to cook. So, I’m hoping that I can also carry and continue that message as well. Just getting people excited about cooking and the family table.

So, get excited about Emeril and his guests, Martha Stewart and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child, tonight on The Emeril Lagasse Show on ION television at 8 p.m. EST.

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