Q&A: Emeril Lagasse
Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico Steakhouse is a Las Vegas landmark, a dining institution that celebrated 20 years of successful business at The Venetian with a full renovation, front and back of the house. But don't fret—the legendary chef's New Orleans barbecue shrimp, gumbo and other signatures are still on the menu. Somehow Lagasse also found the time to create a brand-new restaurant onboard Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship when it debuts this year.
Congrats on launching your first restaurant at sea. What is it about this project that excited you and drew you to such a unique situation?
You know what? These guys are pros. As I've been working with the folks at Carnival, they keep getting more dedicated and working very hard and just perfecting culinary excellence. They approached me about this ship called Mardi Gras, which of course is a little bit about what Emeril stands for, so it became really exciting. Then my team started working with their team and it started getting more exciting. The restaurant is ... sort of in the French Quarter section of the ship, so it should be a very vibrant experience.
What will the menu be like for Emeril's Bistro 1396 onboard the ship?
It's not too sophisticated because we're trying to keep things perfect for the family. There's a great seafood component to the menu, oysters and shellfish and whatever we can get fresh and bring on the ship, then touches of gumbo and some po' boys. The (Carnival) team, they get it, and they've spent a lot of time in my restaurant in New Orleans, so it's a good mix.
People think of New Orleans when they think of you and your food, but you've been an essential part of dining developments in Las Vegas and we like to claim you as our own. Do you see similarities in the culinary culture between New Orleans and Las Vegas?
Vegas has certainly evolved into that now. I started in Las Vegas almost 25 years ago, and there was an educational part in the early years that had to be established. Now it's turned into an incredible dining and food scene and I'm just so happy to be a part of it. My team has been there a long time and has really become part of the community and we do a lot of different things, particularly with mentoring kids, and we love it there.
Delmonico at Venetian just celebrated 20 years and is open again after a renovation. Why was it important to reinvest in this restaurant?
We're constantly trying to evolve all the time in Las Vegas. We did this blowout renovation in pieces, starting with the kitchen about six months ago. We didn't want to do it all together because it really was that extensive and took a lot of time, so we broke it up. And the meat program at Delmonico is one of the best out there and we've been doing it a long time, but we're trying to evolve not just the meat program, but bring a new dedication to the seafood and the other dishes. We're always looking for the best product and using our great relationships we've established over the years, and now we can keep doing in our thing.
What else are you working on in the new year?
Well, we're almost done renovating Emeril's (in New Orleans) and it's going to be 30 years old. Really, it's about not resting on your laurels, constantly brainstorming, testing new dishes every day and for me, working very closely with our chefs and our culinary team so we can keep giving the customer a great experience no matter what restaurant they visit.