Emeril Lagasse to be honored with Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award

NEW ORLEANS -- Celebrity chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse will join a list of other hospitality legends like Paul Prudhomme and Leah Chase when he's honored with the Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award Thursday night.

Lagasse, a chef, restaurant owner, TV personality, author and philanthropist, established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills.

To date, the Foundation has distributed $8 million in grants benefiting children’s charities in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast.

“Chef Emeril’s commitment to the culinary industry is inspiring, but his passion for further educating the children of this region and improving their lots in life is truly spectacular,” states Jim Fein, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience President. “He is an icon, one of the original leaders of our industry and this region. We are proud to call him one of our own.”

The Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award recognizes one individual, or partners, each year that has made a lifetime commitment to the hospitality industry through extraordinary leadership, personal and professional accomplishments and philanthropic contributions to the community.

It's named for restaurateur legend Ella Brennan. The award’s past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme, philanthropist Bill Goldring, Chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, Audubon leader Ron Forman, and local restaurateur Ralph Brennan.

Lagasse says the award is very special for him since he considers Ella Brennan a mentor who helped him get to where he is today.

"I believe that everybody has to have a mentor, at least one," Lagasse says. "She's impacted not only the New Orleans restaurant scene, but the country."

The award dinner is part of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, but the rest of the NOWFE events aren't happening until May.

Buy tickets for the big award night here.