Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways

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Rick F.
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2003/09/09 01:33:59 (permalink)

Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways

(Edited for spelling)

Every now and then I mess up. Have you ever done that? Here's my best of all mistakes:
______________________________

As one who likes to cook, and one who takes a pretty acerbic view of "showman" chefs, I started off considering Emeril Lagasse a jerk. But then I read up a little and realized that while he was a showman, he could still produce. That is, he has the solid credentials to back up his performance. If he says something will work in a restaurant, it will. You can trust him.

So I started watching his show, the one where he wandered around in a tee-shirt and cooked for 4-5 people and was pretty casual. And I liked it: he became a real person, divorced from all the hype.

Next I started watching "Emeril Live." I didn't really like it, but again, he had the credentials and I could generally find some useful tips in the show. I came to like it: he had fun, and his self-promotion was okay. Part of the deal.

But tonight--09/08/2003--he did something new, and I don't know if I'll recover.

He had the students and faculty of a school in NYC that was meant to bring the mentally disabled to a place where they could be productive citizens as guests on his "Emeril Live" show.

And he showed them respect and he worked with them as he would have worked with other, fully able, persons, and he didn't talk down to them, and he by God made them feel good about themselves and their future.

And, by God, if a "super-star chef" can turn out to be that good a person, there is hope for the profession. And the vocation. Thank you, Emeril Lagasse.
#1

23 Replies Related Threads

    scbuzz
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 07:58:46 (permalink)
    I saw that and it was an excellent show ! I like to see when people take time to help in that way.

    I always thought of Emeril of a bit of a showman too, but "HEY !" at least he is not boring and I guess that is why the Food Network loves him so much !
    #2
    RockyB
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 09:41:22 (permalink)
    Food Network Needed a showman to get to the people in the door. Food Net has a lot of good shows, but if you don't have the door buster, you don't get off the ground. Emeril is a lot of things, and think about it, if it wasn't for him, how many people would know about the Food Net?
    #3
    Lone Star
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 10:27:15 (permalink)
    I was able to watch a little of it before I was drug into teen homework hell (like I can remember any calculus!)...it seemed like Emeril and the children were having a great time.

    I can take Emeril in small doses, but like Rick, I prefer "t-shirt" Emeril to "BAM!" Emeril.

    I really enjoyed the program where he cooked with the winners of his barbeque contest.

    btw, how did the vegetable soup turn out?
    #4
    essvee
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 10:53:22 (permalink)
    That is really sweet. My opinion of Emeril has been changed a bit.
    #5
    lleechef
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 13:13:33 (permalink)
    I was not too enamoured with Emeril at the beginning, with all the BAM and KICK IT UP A NOTCH, but you gotta give it to the guy: he's talented and he can cook (he never would've lasted at Commander's Palace if he couldn't), he's hugely successful and has high, high energy. My opinion of him changed a couple years ago when I met him, through a mutual friend, at one of his restaurants, NOLA. He is sincerely a nice guy. He kept sending food and wine over to our table until we were stuffed, then two autographed books appeared and when we asked the server for the check, he said it had been taken care of. He's a down to earth guy (even though he is a millionaire) from Fall River, MA.
    #6
    seafarer john
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 14:16:20 (permalink)
    I hate to be the one to throw cold water on your Emeril love fest
    (in truth, I relish the opportunity), but just because he is a competent chef and is nice to children and small animals and doesn't beat his wife, and is generous with his guests, and is an all round decent citizen is not sufficient reason for me to punish myself by watching "Emeril Live".

    Seems to me the best part of the show is when the band is playing.

    "Bam" and "...up a notch" and "This ain't rocket science" have long since lost their charm for me. A chef on a stage before thousands in an outdoor venue is so distasteful and so wrong for the promotion of good eating that it reflects badly on the whole Foodnet in my mind. The inane audience cheering when ever garlic is mentioned, or more
    "essence" is added, or hot chilies are tossed in the pot is totally off-putting. If Emeril acted more like Mario I think I might watch more
    Foodnet than I do these days. Emeril is not all that is wrong with the food showbiz that Foodnet had become- he is just the most extreme example of American commercialism cum showbiz killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    #7
    Lucky Bishop
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 14:25:30 (permalink)
    I'm not a particular fan of Emeril, but it's clear to me that the most annoying part of his show by far is the audience. Watching the studio-based, audience-free Essence of Emeril is much better than watching Emeril Live, simply because the audiences at Emeril Live truly seem to have the collective IQ of squid.

    Emeril's no Alton Brown. But thankfully, he's also no Bobby Flay, who has the remarkable ability to be both an obnoxious jerk and a lousy chef.
    #8
    Lone Star
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 15:12:00 (permalink)
    Lucky, I never realized it, but you have just pointed out to me why I don't mind Emeril when he is interacting with a few people, but it IS the audience that annoys me.

    Maybe if I just look at the audience in a kind of "Iron Chef" sort of way....nah.
    #9
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 16:35:08 (permalink)
    RickF, I have always liked Emeril. I have ate at his restaurant close to the convention center in NO many times and it was always great. It is called "Emerils"

    I enjoyed watching him do the cookout at someone's residence doing BBQ and all the sides and then with the winners of his cooking contest.

    I sort of like his "BAM" and "kick it up a notch" It is just a trademark remark.

    He was in Knoxville a few years ago and the people who worked for the show indi cated that he was very precise with his structure.

    Great story Rick and I wish I had seen that particular show.

    Will be in Nack-a-Tush??? in a couple of weeks

    Paul Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #10
    EliseT
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/09 23:47:16 (permalink)
    I went along to Emeril's restaurant not exactly against my will, but not of my own voilition. I am often irked by the grandstanding, mugging, and the weird "Knock knock...who's there?" predictible call and response with the audience on his show. I also feel like he mixes too many unusual clashing ingredients and sauces together. I have to say, I had the best meal of my life there, which is really saying something. The tasso pasta, double-cut pork chop, and banana cream pie will always have a special place in my heart.

    I didn't see the show with the developmentally disabled students, so I can't comment on that.
    #11
    Hillbilly
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/10 09:30:17 (permalink)
    As a consumer of food and not at all a preparer (unless it can be burned on a backyard grill), I enjoy Emeril a lot more than some stuffed apron in a white chef's hat trying to teach aspiring chefs. Emeril isn't about trying to show the viewer or audience how to prepare a meal, he is showing us how to be adventurous in what we eat. He sure isn't bland. I seldom watch (unless I am surfing and there are no sporting events, "Law & Order", "Mash" or "Andy Griffin" re-runs) but I don't even slow down my clicking when a chef or faux chef shows up on screen behind a cook island and some mixing bowls. Emeril and the late Justin Leonard are the only ones I have ever watched--strictly for entertainment.
    #12
    paul and louise
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/20 21:59:20 (permalink)
    the boy finds people
    he learns
    i'm not gonna watch the cookin' show, but the cookbook
    the wife and i are enamored of "louisiana real and rustic"
    the other emeril books i've seen were left on the retailers shelf
    how much "real and rustic" is emeril, and how much MARCELLE BIENVENU..?
    I SUSPECT MORE MARCELLE BIENVENU
    #13
    skylar0ne
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/20 23:43:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    If Emeril acted more like Mario I think I might watch more


    Afraid I'll have to disagree with you on that one...there's one thing Mario does that drives me to distraction...if he says "extra virgin olive oil" once during a program, he says it five hundred times. I know that's picky, but it's also nerve-wracking.
    #14
    LizzieR
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/21 21:29:04 (permalink)
    I have never been much of an Emeril fan. I find him and his shows way over the top and he is on way too much. Having said that, I saw him interact with youngsters at an elementary school where he was preparing them lunch. He couldn't have been more charming. He was kind and really related to them. I still don't enjoy watching his show, but my opinion of the man has changed.
    #15
    EdSails
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/22 13:12:16 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by paul and louise

    the boy finds people
    he learns
    i'm not gonna watch the cookin' show, but the cookbook
    the wife and i are enamored of "louisiana real and rustic"
    the other emeril books i've seen were left on the retailers shelf
    how much "real and rustic" is emeril, and how much MARCELLE BIENVENU..?
    I SUSPECT MORE MARCELLE BIENVENU


    It's definitely one of my favorites in my collection. You may despise or admire Emeril, but one thing for sure------he has really livened up the cooking scene.
    #16
    stanpnepa
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/22 13:33:53 (permalink)
    Rick, nice to see your post. I think Emeril is a stand-up guy, true to his roots, it's just that his success even baffles his audience, who seem like mindless sheep who clap and gawk at anything he says/does. Eek!

    We've got a couple of his cookbooks, but are in a tiny apartment. We'll really begin to cook in 2004. There goes the neighborhood!

    I've been to Emeril's twice.

    First, at Universal Studios Orlando, where my (then future) wife and I had an anniversary lunch. Deep gumbo, sea bass and tuna entrees, and off-the-map bread pudding---all excellent! (And I suppose for $135 with tip, it should be). Even so, a great great meal!

    Second, this past Thanksgiving weekend at Delmonico in Vegas (a quick stopover from Hawaii on our honeymoon). The atmosphere was a bit stuffy, yet loud---I could hear people across the room more clearly than my wife sitting across from me. The tables were too close together too. The tenderloins were just OK, nothing special, the shoestring fries abundant but a little boring after awhile. I can't even remember the dessert. On the whole, dollar for dollar, it was the worst meal of a two week honeymoon.

    Still, it's the last experience you recall more vividly, so maybe we'll be back...or maybe not.







    #17
    Geoff Steinberg
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/09/25 16:42:39 (permalink)
    "Every now and then I mess up. Have you ever done that? Here's my best of all mistakes:"

    I don't understand. Was that whole post a mistake, or was the mistake that you thought badly of Emeril to begin with (and the NYC thing changed your mind)? It kind of looks like you think the entire post was a mistake, and you were wrong to think he was nice because of how he acted with those NYC people?

    Confused.

    GS
    #18
    Rick F.
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/11/05 02:37:27 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Geoff SteinbergI don't understand. Was . . .the mistake that you thought badly of Emeril to begin with (and the NYC thing changed your mind)?
    Yes. I prejudged, when all my life I've told people in conversation, classroom, and now congregation, not to do that. Here's a pretty interesting[url='http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/entertainment/dining/7165881.htm']link[/url].
    #19
    spadoman
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/11/05 05:53:45 (permalink)
    I don't know Emeril, so, I can't speak for my feelings about him. I don't like his show. I can't put my finger on it, but I don't care for it.

    In the mid 1980's, I worked as a program director for an occupational skills program which taught people with varying degrees of ability skills for the purpose of getting a job. Many of my students, and I before I became a teacher, didn't know how to behave when in the company of somebody "different' than ourselves.
    Emeril is a showman, but you can't act the part of someone interacting with this special population. I am impressed and feel I know something about him now.
    Rick, thanks for the heads-up. I'll give him another shot.
    #20
    EliseT
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/11/05 13:25:50 (permalink)
    One thing I don;t think we brought up yet is that a person's kindness, patience, etc., has nothing to do with their showmanship, watchability or cooking skills. I guess in the grand scheme of things everything is inter-related, but I myself LOVE Emeril's food, admire him as a person, and would rather chew tin foil than watch his show. If she had one, I probably wouldn't watch Mother Teresa's cooking show either.
    #21
    Rick F.
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/11/05 13:48:15 (permalink)
    EliseT & clothier: I completely understand, and by and large agree. He absolutely is a showman; I don't watch the "BAM" show much, but I like the one where he cooks for just a couple of folks. Check the link I posted above--it's enlightening. Nevertheless, if we all agreed on everything life would be pretty dull, wouldn't it?
    #22
    Willly
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/11/05 14:00:39 (permalink)
    While Emeril has done a lot to get Americans to cook food other that that which comes out of cans, I am not a fan of his shows or cooking. His cooking is ham-handed (no pun intended) and is really focused on up-front flavors, rather than nuance and balance. It may be the time constraints due taping a show before an audience, but he never quite gets it right when he's cooking. Breading is over browned, things are under-mixed, etc... Technique, which would help American kitchens enormously, is virtually non-existent. Audiences should be cheering at the inclusion of half a clove of garlic, not half a cup... I also think his cooking is at its best when he does the R.I. Portugese cooking of his youth.

    Emeril, the chef and celebrity, is however a remarkable and inspiring success story.
    #23
    Mayhaw Man
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    RE: Breast-beating, repentance, the error of my ways 2003/11/05 14:09:46 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by clothier

    Hmmm. Looking for a nice way to put this. Hmmm.

    Ummm.

    It's just television. He has created a television persona, as has the rest of the folks who have shows on TV. I think Emeril is no more like the guy you see on TV than David Letterman is. The only reason TV exsists is to keep your butt in the seat for 22 minutes out of every half hour. And if saying BAM! gets the job done, so be it.
    I have a famous client who is nothing, and I mean nothing like he portrays himself on TV. As he puts it, it's what I do, not who I am.

    So, like the TV show, don't like the TV show. But don't confuse what you see with who he is.


    Clothier has it right. I have known the guy, in a causual professional relationship for a very long time. I am very good friends with a number of his staff, both restaurant and business. Emeril, in person outside of his stage persona, is a very self effacing guy who cares a great deal about the people who work for him and is deeply interested in food and food service and the restaurant business in general.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't like his TV persona much and
    I don't have alot of appreciation for food shows where the food is akin to glop and generally something that I already know how to cook but......don't fool yourselves. Anybody who can follow P. Prudhommes act at Commander's Palace and keep a long term job working for New Orleans Restaurant Maven Ella Brennan has got to have all of his ducks in a row(and know how to nicely crisp the skin on those ducks, as well).

    Incidentally, while it may be full of bam yelling sycophants and tourists who have made reservations months in advance, Emeril's in New Orleans is the real deal. Great food, well served, by an incredibly loyal and attentive staff. I live in a town full of great places to eat (probably, on a restaurant to population ratio the greatest eating town on the planet) and I still find myself going back to Emeril's pretty regularly. It doesn't get old and I am rarely dissappointed.

    Slag his clown like tv persona all you want, but be careful when you start getting into his cooking chops and restaurant management ability, the guy knows what he is doing.
    #24
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