The day we’ve all been waiting for since Bravo announced they would be filming a season of “Top Chef” in our fair city has arrived. “Top Chef: New Orleans” premieres tonight, October 2, at 9:00 p.m. CST and one of its judges who just so happens to be kind of a big deal in New Orleans, Emeril Lagasse, gave GoNOLA an exclusive, inside look into what is sure to be the most unique and exciting season of the culinary competition show yet. Get a little taste of what’s to come this season on “Top Chef” in the city where food is not just a part, but a way of life.
Emeril Lagasse Talks Top Chef: New Orleans
GoNOLA: Why is New Orleans such a great location to film “Top Chef?”
Emeril: I think when “Top Chef” had filmed the finale here in season five they really saw how much opportunity food and culture-wise there is, and like most people that visit, once you scratch the surface here, you have to come back.
It’s an amazing opportunity for chef contestants to come here and compete. To be able to experience our amazing seasonal ingredients and local produce, our diverse cuisine and chef talent locally, is unreal. I also am really proud that we get to showcase our hospitality, because it’s at the core of what we do.
GoNOLA: What about the current New Orleans culinary scene are you most excited about? Why does New Orleans continue to be a top food destination?
Emeril: The diversity and the talent. New Orleans cuisine has a rich history of influences—the French, Spanish, African-American and more. It’s always been a melting pot that still continues to evolve today. Vietnamese influence has been huge, as well as the Irish and Italian. It’s so amazing and especially from a cook’s perspective to get to broaden technique and experiment with different ingredients and cultures.
GoNOLA: What was your favorite part about shooting Season 11 of “Top Chef” in New Orleans? What was it like filming in your home town?
Emeril: It was pretty great to film right here in my backyard. It’s a bit like having your extended family visit your home and proudly show them around, host them and make them your best food you know they will love.
I’m really proud to showcase what makes New Orleans so special. Everything from the bayous, swamps, and French Quarter – there is so much here.
The production team did an amazing job at picking venues and challenges that really give viewers and the chef’testants a great taste of the culture. What I really loved was that they didn’t just stop at the food; there are some really amazing guests that also exemplify this city’s history and love of music.
GoNOLA: What can fans look forward to this season?
Emeril: I think they are really going to enjoy seeing the talented chef’testants work with ingredients they may have never used before. Everything from alligator to shellfish, there are a lot of ingredients indigenous to Louisiana that really make a fun and exciting platform for these chefs to showcase their talents in a new light. I also think the show really captures the spirit of New Orleans and how we like to have a good time.