He’s a world renowed chef with several restaurants bearing his name and he has his own cooking shows on The Food Network.
But these days, all Emeril Lagasse wants to talk about is his latest venture — a new cookbook. Not just any cookbook, but a cookbook for kids and their families.
“Emeril’s There’s a Chef in My World!” (HarperCollins Children’s Books, $22.99 is a follow-up to the hugely popular “There’s a Chef in My Soup!” (2002) and “There’s a Chef in My Family!” (2004).
This latest cookbook was just the natural next step, says the man who made “bam” a household word.
“I got to thinking how we take so many things for granted in the world, including food,” Lagasse said during a recent telephone interview, “so I thought it would be a great idea to do an international cookbook . . . present recipes from a variety of cultures which have an influence on Americans young and old.”
In addition, Lagasse is quick to point out, “we are all part of one big global family and what better way to learn about other cultures than through their food?”
For his latest venture, Lagasse takes chefs on a delicious journey to Italy, Spain, Vietnam, India, West Africa, Nicaragua and many more places, just by cooking and enjoying food at the table.
There are 75 new recipes from around the globe, including Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Shrimp, Jamaican Jerked Chicken with Barbecue Sauce, Meatball Soup and Toad in the Hole.
“I wanted to show chefs of all ages how easy it is to prepare many of their favorite well-known ethnic dishes,” Lagasse says, “as well as introduce cooks to dishes they have not yet enjoyed.”
Within many of the recipes there is a section Lagasse calls “Did You Know . . .” that contains an interesting tidbit about the recipe, its ingredients or its origins.
“I really wanted to do a little bit of education with this book,” Lagasse says, “so the recipes are illustrated with the flag of the particular country, there’s a brief history and a small map showing where the country is in the world.”
The goal, Lagasse says, is to get families talking.
“It’s a starting point,” he says. “It’s important for families to know about the world, and what better way to learn than through cooking.”
While the recipes may seem, at first glance exotic, Lagasse says supermarkets will have most, if not all, of the ingredients necessary to cook the tasty treats.
“Many supermarkets have ethnic specialty sections that offer a variety of ingredients,” Lagasse says, “and there are also specialty markets and online stores as well.”
The father of four says he firmly believes that kids want more than just macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and bowls of pasta, staples on many children’s menus.
“I think if children are exposed to different foods at home, they’ll want to try different things when they go out to dinner,” says Emeril, whose Emeril’s Orlando restaurant features a kid’s menu serving up Kid’s Filet Mignon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Haricots Vert (Green Beans), Cornmeal Fried Gulf Shrimp with Curly Fries and Cheese Tortellini Alfredo.
“I think it’s just a matter of thinking more globally when it comes to food,” Lagasse says, “and hopefully my book will point cooks of all ages in that direction.”
By Patti Martin
Asbury Park Press