The Latest from Lagasse

The famous chef discusses upcoming events for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

New Orleans’ culinary starpower quotient sees a sharp spike in the second week of November, when the city hosts not one, but two fundraisers for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation: the “Cajun casual” Boudin, Bourbon & Beer and the big-ticket gala Carnivale du Vin. Formerly just “Boudin & Beer,” the event chaired by Lagasse and fellow celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Donald Link adds another “B” this year in the form of bourbon, with Buffalo Trace providing libations alongside Abita. The more than 40 local and national chefs cooking up boudin include everyone from local stars Susan Spicer, Adolfo Garcia, Tory McPhail and Justin Devillier to out-of-towners like John Currence (City Grocery, Oxford, Miss.), Josh Galliano (The Libertine, St. Louis, Mo.), Ed Lee (610 Magnolia, Louisville, Ky.) and Naomi Pomeroy (BEAST, Portland, Ore.). The featured chefs for Carnivale du Vin, a black-tie event with an auction, four-course dinner with wine pairings and live music, are John Besh, renowned seafood chef Rick Moonen and Food Network fixtures Cat Cora and Aarón Sánchez. While Lagassee is national culinary household name these days, New Orleans is the city that made him famous; so it’s fitting that he returned to the judges table for “Top Chef New Orleans.” The chef talks about the jam-packed foodie weekend and the Bravo series.

What are you most excited about with this year’s Boudin, Bourbon & Beer and Carnivale du Vin? Every year, it’s exciting to see what our participating chefs will be cooking up at both events. We’ve got an incredible lineup of talented people not only from New Orleans, but across the country who come in and support my foundation. I’m always amazed at the creativity and thought they put into their dishes.

No one is going away hungry, that’s for sure.

Is it crazy having both of your big fundraising events in one weekend? Yes, but it’s a good crazy and a lot of fun. This is our ninth year for Carnivale du Vin, and we added BB&B three years ago. With BB&B we really wanted to create an event that was more casual and accessible to the community, giving people insight into what the foundation does. A lot of our supporters come in town for Carnivale du Vin, so it just made sense to kick off the weekend with this food festival celebrating this important Louisiana delicacy.

You’ve been a judge on “Top Chef” before, but what was it like returning as a judge for the New Orleans season, being that you have such a strong relationship with the city? It’s been a great experience being a guest judge on “Top Chef,” but filming in New Orleans made it that much more special. It’s only natural to have a chef-focused show based in one of the greatest food cities in the world. It was a long time coming, and I’m excited viewers will get an inside look at my New Orleans.

Do you think the show did the city justice? I think so. Bravo and the producers did a great job capturing what locals and visitors love about this city. Also, I think having two of our local chefs competing will give viewers more of a taste of what we’re all about.

For more information on Boudin, Bourbon & Beer and Carnivale du Vin, visit

Categories: New Orleans Food Culture