Emeril on Iron Chef, Finally!

When the Food Network first imported the Japanese cooking show Iron Chef, foodies everywhere were dying to see Emeril Legasse, then the face of the Food Network, head to Tokyo to go head-to-head with an Iron Chef.  A few years later when Food Network announced plans of producing an American version of the Japanese hit foodies again wondered if "Bam!" would echo through Kitchen Stadium.  Those original Iron Chefs were Bobby Flay, Morimoto and Wolfgang Puck.  Puck left and was replaced by Mario Batali and Cat Cora, but no Emeril.

So food fans clamored, maybe Emeril will "kick it up a notch" against one of his pals?  That never happened.  Then they added Michael Symon but no Emeril.  In fact, other than reruns, Legasse has all but disappeared from Food Network.  He took his act over to the sister Fine Living Network.  Parent company Scripps was hoping that Emeril Live could do for FLN what it did for Food Network.  It didn't.  Fine Living is headed for the scrap heap this spring in lue of the new Cooking Channel.

And while Food Network was searching for yet another new Iron Chef, Jose Garces', Legasse has been busy.  First there was Hurricane Katrina which effected Emeril's three New Orleans restaurants (Emeril's, NOLA and Emeril's Delmonico) and his corporate headquarters, Emeril's Hombase.  More importantly Legasse's new home in Bay St. Louis, MS was completely destroyed by the storm surge.  There was much rebuilding to be done.

After getting his New Orleans locals back on their feet, Legasse then turned his attention to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Mississippi saw far more damage from Katrina than New Orleans, yet the media all but ignored the good people of the Magnolia State.  Legasse did not.  Mrs. Legasse that is.  A native of Gulfport, she insisted that her famous husband open a restaurant in her hometown to help with recovery.  He did.  Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House open in the Island View Casino in 2007.

Today Legasse has seven restaurants along the Third Coast (in addition to New Orleans and Mississippi he has three in Florida - two in Orlando, one in Miami).  Having learned a valuable lesson he has also opened six other restuarants that are far from near hurricane country, Bethlehem, PA (2) and Las Vegas (4).

In addition to expanding his empire, the famed chef has also added another TV show, Emeril Green on the enviromentalist network Planet Green.  On Emeril Green he trades in his trademark pork fat for wholesome, organic food.  He also has a radio show, Cooking with Emeril, on Martha Stewart's satalite station Martha Stewart Living Radio.

After nearly two decades of being America's favorite chef, Emeril Legasse is finally stepping into Kitchen Stadium.  His appearance is timed with the release of his latest book, Emeril 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast.  It also brings Food Network full circle.  Bobby Flay and Mario Batali were virtually unknown outside of the New York dining scene when Legasse was the Food Network's anchor.  Drawn in by the theatrics of Emeril Live, viewers soon began watching other shows and before long the network had a metaphorical mir a poix in Flay, Batali and Legasse.

On January 3rd, Legasse will team up with Batali to take on the team of Flay and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.  Rumor has it first lady Michelle Obama (of White House Kitchen Garden fame) will make a guest appearance.
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