How Daniel Boulud And Eric Ripert Helped Shape EJ Lagasse As A Chef - Exclusive

One would think growing up in the home of one of the best-known chefs in America would be more than enough to get someone on the right track for a promising culinary career of their own, yet for EJ Lagasse — son of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse — working alongside his dad from an early age was just the start of his culinary journey.

On an episode of Tasting Table's "Shared Tastes," Emeril and EJ discussed their relationship, EJ's budding career as the 20-year-old takes the reins at his father's flagship restaurant in New Orleans, and the other chefs who helped influence him in the early days of his culinary training. In addition to attending Johnson & Wales Culinary school in Rhode Island, EJ went to New York to work under other chefs during his teenage years, including family friends and Michelin star recipients Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert.

EJ has fond memories of dining with both of these chefs from a young age — memories that influenced his desire to become a chef. "It all started, for me, progressing when eating at Le Bernardin or going and having a family dinner around Thanksgiving or Christmas," EJ revealed. He even recalled the first time he told his father he wanted to be a chef was after a meal at Cafe Boulud. By the age of 12, EJ was serious enough about his passion that his father told Ripert, "Hey, he's really wanting to become a chef," which led both Ripert and Boulud to invite the younger Lagasse to their restaurants.

Well-rounded training

Of his time with his mentors, EJ told Tasting Table on "Shared Tastes," "Working in both of those restaurants for a bit of time set a very humbling precedent for the amount of work that was going to be ahead of actually trying to become a chef– not just become a chef and, 'Okay, now I cook,' or, 'Okay, I went to Johnson & Wales, so now I am a chef' — in a sense of genuinely understanding what it takes to operate at a high level."

EJ spent close to two years traveling as he worked under Ripert, Boulud, and other chefs from the time he was 15. "It was really well-rounded, your training," Emeril reflected. "You got the classics and the education at Johnson & Wales. You really evolved tremendously at La Bernardin. You understood discipline at Daniel. You saw a different form of creativity at Core with Claire and with Chef Johnny as well as Fransen, as well as Enrique in Lisbon. Then, it was time to say, '"Okay, it's time to come home.'" And that homecoming has been a full circle moment for both EJ and Emeril, with the younger Lagasse taking over as the chef at Emeril's New Orleans in early 2023.

Emeril's New Orleans is currently closed. Stay tuned for a fall renovation reveal of the NOLA Flagship restaurant, with EJ Lagasse at the helm.