Being a chef can be exhausting, and so being a chef, a restaurateur, a television personality, an entrepreneur, a husband, and a father can take a toll on a man, but not chef Emeril Lagasse.
Known for his bold personality in the kitchen (who could ever forget his classic "BAM!"?), the chef likes to educate fans and at-home cooks with his collection for the Home Shopping Network, now known as HSN. The affordable collection includes signature items such as a T-Fal fryer, cookware sets, wine openers, and steaks. Lagasse is a pro in the kitchen, and he wants to make sure to share his tips with his viewers.
We sat down with chef Lagasse and will showcase his interview in a series filled with tips and advice from Thanksgiving to New Years. This time around, Lagasse talks turkey, stuffing, and inviting everyone from family to new friends to the table.
The Daily Meal: What are your traditions around this time of year?
Emeril Lagasse: For Thanksgiving, the last 10-plus years have been at my house, and I've done probably at least 90 to 95 percent of the cooking. [We host] anywhere from 20 to 45 people. We have three birds, three stuffings —I have to have my mom's stuffing, which is Portuguese, I have to have my mother-in-law's stuffing which is Southern cornbread, and then I have to have New Orleans' stuffing, oyster dressing. So, then, do you want a brined turkey? We did one of those, then we had a traditional turkey, and then we had a smoked turkey.
Last year [we hosted] like 27 people and we took in homeless families, which was really cool. It was a great experience for the kids. We didn't just go pick them up on Thanksgiving morning — we had been following them and then we officially invited them. We did the same thing at Christmas, too.
TDM: And this was in your area?
EL: Yep, in our area. We did it through the kids’ school.
TDM: Since you are often the host, is there one thing that you live by every time you host a dinner or a party?
EL: You've got to be careful not to drink too early. You've got to last, I learned that a long time ago.
To answer your question on a serious note, I think that people need to not only have a food plan, but they need to prior plan. They need to think things through; [think about] what can be done in advance because you want to be able to enjoy your guests.
I used to try to do all of the minute stuff at the stove and make paella to order and make risotto. It just became too much.
Soup is great because you can do it ahead of time and it's on the stove. Things like baked clams and cold seafood salad can be also done in advance, so I try to do a lot of those things.
I try to do a lot of dishes that I make the morning of, and my wife will do the table and set all of the platters out for what we're going to do, and then, just before everyone arrives, I go to the refrigerator and I'm like boom and boom and boom. I put my things in the oven and then I can enjoy wine and people as they come. You have to do that.
Stay tuned for more with chef Lagasse in our other segments coming soon.