EJ Lagasse Says Nobody Loses When You Cook Sustainably - Exclusive

Sustainability has been a hot-button item for many years, especially when it comes to food. As concern grows for food being shipped long distances and questions arise about the ethical ramifications of food production, many restaurants are turning to a more sustainable model — including Emeril's New Orleans. The restaurant recently underwent a massive renovation under the direction of chef patron EJ Lagasse. When it came time to come up with the new menu, he knew local ingredients were going to be a staple.

In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Lagasse said, "Nobody loses in the situation. I get the best produce, and the local farmers, genuinely from a monetary standpoint, from a business standpoint, are supported." The financial aspects of buying local are often cited as a barrier to local food, but Lagasse sees it from another perspective: Getting local produce is good for business because it's good for food quality. "They're giving me the best cauliflower you've ever seen, because they've been doing it for 40 years. They're good at it. It's what they do. I don't have to worry about the quality of the produce dropping at all," he said.

It's not just the farm and restaurant that benefits from sourcing local food; Lagasse noted, "It also supports the state. It supports the Gulf Coast region. We're using things from Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas as well. It's not just about Louisiana, but it's about supporting the Gulf Coast region when it comes to our produce."

Local produce makes way for a seasonal menu

Using local produce and ingredients isn't just a good business decision — it's also something near and dear to EJ Lagasse's heart. "It's important from a quality standpoint, it's important from a supporting the community standpoint, and it's important for me, because I have a personal connection to some of these farmers," he said. It also plays a key role in the seasonal menu Emeril's offers in addition to its classic menu. "With the seasonal menu, it's a hyper focus on the seasonality of produce here in the state of Louisiana, and a focus on finding and sourcing the best of the best for our guests."

But even for their classic menu, using locally produced food is a no-brainer, according to Lagasse. "We have the best seafood in the world at our doorstep. It's right there. We'd be silly not to use it." By using locally sourced produce, fish, and other ingredients, Lagasse is committed to taking Emeril's into the next generation and supporting the environment with it.

Emeril's New Orleans is now open for dining. For reservations and additional information, please visit Emeril's restaurant website.

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