Emeril Lagasse

Emeril Lagasse is one of the most recognizable chefs in the world. He owns 13 restaurants, has an array of products bearing his name, and currently stars in the Amazon series “Eat the World”. For his Guest DJ set, he highlights the music of New Orleans and some songs that simply make him happy. Host Eric J Lawrence
Photo credit: Dustin Downing

1. Billy Joel - Piano Man
2. U2 - Vertigo
3. Zac Brown Band - Free
4. Van Halen - Right Now
5. Dr. John - Iko Iko

Eric: Hi I’m Eric J. Lawrence and I am here with Emeril Lagasse, one of the most recognizable chefs in the world. He owns 13 restaurants, has an array of products bearing his name, and currently stars in the globetrotting Amazon series “Eat the World” but, today, we’re here to talk about five songs that have inspired him throughout his life. Chef Lagasse, thank you so much for joining us.

Chef Lagasse: Thanks Eric so much for having us, this is really quite exciting.

Eric: Great! Well, what’s the first track you got for us?

Chef Lagasse: “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. The interesting story is that there’s a character in one of the lyrics of the song.

*Song: Billy Joel - Piano Man*

Chef Lagasse: And John use to work for me at Commander’s Palace, way before he was with Billy Joel. But, what’s amazing about the song is that, for me, it’s very deep, it’s very personal. There’s a lot in there that says a lot about people and places and just things going on in life then and things that are going on in life now. So, one of my favorite songs.

Eric: You mentioned being familiar with the character from the song. What is the relationship of music in New Orleans?

Chef Lagasse: Well, that’s probably one of the components why I’ve stayed and lived there for so long, because not only is it one of the greatest food cities in the world, in my opinion, but the architecture, the spirit of being European. But, then again, when it really comes down to it, the music is really serious in New Orleans, and it’s not only Jazz, either. It’s a happy place—it makes me happy.

Eric: That was Billy Joel with “Piano Man”. So, what’s the next track you’ve got for us?

Chef Lagasse: Well, I’m a huge U2 fan. I can’t believe what four human beings—the sound that these guys can create, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting most of them. It’s a song called “Vertigo”. “Vertigo” was a song that I used to listen to in the car in New York all the time going to and from. It was just one of those songs that moved me, put me in a good mood whether it was night or day, but just hearing the collaboration of those four guys in U2…it’s amazing music.

*Song: U2 -  Vertigo*

Eric: That’s U2 with “Vertigo”, it was selected by our guest, Emeril Lagasse. Up next, I see you have something from country singer, Zac Brown.

Chef Lagasse: I had the pleasure of recently being in Zac and his band’s company; a very small performance that was done for a very special cause. Also, I’m a fisherman so I’m out on the boat a lot when I can be, and tuning into Zac Brown’s greatest hits right now is really special. But, there’s just something when the song “Free” comes on that just sort of makes me think that we all, at times, feel like we’re hostages of something, and so Zac Brown “Free” is definitely for me.  

Eric: I think it was sort of a really unique decision when you did “Emeril Live” to have a live band in the studio.  

Chef Lagasse: Well, I felt that, you know,  Jay Leno had one and David Letterman had one, with Paul.  So, when we were talking about creating “Emeril Live”, it first started out very small, one or two musicians, then all of the sudden it was like,  ‘We need an “Emeril Live” band.’  I was very blessed to find and work with Doc Gibbs,  we had an amazing journey.  Everybody who was into food that played music wanted to come on the show, because they knew that they were going to eat well for sure!  It was really a good run.

*Song: Zac Brown Band - Free*

Eric: That was the Zac Brown Band with “Free”, as selected by our guest, Chef Emeril.  Well, what’s the next song you’ve got for us?

Chef Lagasse: “Right Now” by Van Halen. I love the Halen brothers, but I love when Sammy Hagar did the song and how he does the song and he still does it. Sammy, over the years, has become a really good friend of mine. An incredible father, family guy and musician. You know he’s a great cook on top of that…he really is a really good cook and knows quite a bit about food and is so passionate about food. So, when we’re together, it’s food and music and family,  we have a lot of fun.  

Eric: Does he have a specialty?

Chef Lagasse: You know, he’s of Italian background, but having the influences of the water, the beach, Cabo Wabo… Those influences, he loves those specialty tacos and fillings, and he likes to eat very healthy, very light.

*Song: Van Halen - Right Now*

Eric: That was Van Halen with “Right Now”, featuring Sammy Hagar. Well, I am not surprised there’s a New Orleans legend here, rounding out the set; it’s Dr. John.

Chef Lagasse:  You know there’s a lot of legends that I went back and forth on in choosing this. New Orleans has got such a great mix of music but, one of the legends, “Iko Iko” by Dr. John… I don’t think it gets any better. I can’t even describe him. Describing Dr. John would be like me trying to describe to you what  Mardi Gras is.

Eric: He looks like a beautiful dish.

Chef Lagasse: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: If you had to describe Dr. John as a food what would you describe him as?

Chef Lagasse: You know I had the pleasure of having him on “Emeril Live”, and I’ve had the pleasure of being in his company and seeing his work of art many times. He’s one of those guys that loves New Orleans and is very passionate, not only about New Orleans and the people and the food, but he’s very, very passionate about how he represents New Orleans from a music standpoint.  And I’ll tell you what, when he rocks… he rocks.  

*Song: Dr. John - Iko Iko*

Eric:  Well, thank you so much, Emeril, for coming down and sharing the experience with us.

Chef Lagasse: Thanks for having me.  Thank you, also, for taking a peek at “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse”.

Eric:  For a complete track listing and to find these songs online got to www.kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.