It’s been 10 years since Emeril Lagasse brought his signature culinary style to Austin, but the pioneering television host will return on Oct. 7 for a day of events around Austin to benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance and promote his new book, “Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life in the Kitchen,” which comes out on Oct. 6.
Lagasse will start the day with a tour of Springdale Farm with local culinary students and then host a cocktail party and book signing at Hotel Ella from 5 to 7 p.m. The big event of the day is a five-course dinner at 7:30 p.m. at Olamaie from chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas, who will prepare a menu inspired by Lagasse’s new book.
Tickets for the cocktail party and dinner are available at austinfoodwinealliance.org/essentialemeril. The book event costs $35 (not including the book, which will be available for sale at the event), and the dinner costs $175, which does include a signed copy of the book. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, which will be giving out culinary grants later this year.
“We’re deeply honored and grateful that Chef Lagasse has chosen the Austin Food & Wine Alliance to host his visit to Austin,” Mariam Parker, executive director of the alliance, said in a press release.
Via email, Lagasse said he’s been eager to get back to Austin since his last appearance, a book event at a Wal-Mart in South Austin in November 2005 to promote “Emeril’s Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past,” which came out during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. “I can’t wait to see how the city has evolved,” Lagasse said. “I’m looking forward to meeting local culinary students, touring the Springdale farm and eating some good food. My team and I have already talked about getting some great local barbecue.”
When asked about how cooking in America has changed since he became a national star, Lagasse said it’s great to see people become even more enthusiastic about cooking since his revolutionary “bam” days on the Food Network. “We have so many chefs and restaurateurs out there trying new things and I love that so many people are interested in cooking at home now,” he said. With the advent of social media, “food has become such a focal point and shared experience for people, it’s exciting.”
Lagasse said he’s pleased to see his peers in New Orleans continue to push the culinary envelope, especially as they branch out to more cuisines. One thing that won’t change, he says, is the role that restaurants play in people’s lives. They reflect the culture and history of a place, and are community gathering spaces and platforms for creative expression. “There are new, young chefs coming in and changing the way we look at things. There are tons of different kinds of cuisine in the city now, and it seems like there are more to come.”