Chef Emeril Lagasse combined several of his passions — including his dedication to helping students pursue a career in culinary arts and his appreciation for the sport of golf — when he returned to his alma mater, Johnson & Wales University, for the 4th Annual Emeril Lagasse Golf Classic benefiting his endowed scholarship fund. The tournament raised more than $503,000, bringing the four-year event total to just over $1.6 million dollars.
Supporting future culinarians
Two students received 2006 scholarships through The Emeril Lagasse Endowed Scholarship Fund at Johnson & Wales University. They attended the Golf Classic and met Lagasse; in addition to the financial reward, the recipients gain the once-in-a-lifetime experience to work at one of Lagasse’s award-winning restaurants.
One of them, Christopher Walker, a sophomore at the Providence Campus, had dreamed of being a chef since he was seven years old. He credits his love for cooking and his determination to his parents. Christopher said, “working at Emeril’s Orlando Restaurant has been like being in basic training in the military, only it is culinary basic training - I love it!”
“Having the opportunity to spend time with the students who are benefiting from the Emeril Lagasse Endowed Scholarship Fund brings it all together for me,” said Lagasse, a 1978 graduate of Johnson & Wales. “I believe education is what sets us apart in our profession and being able to help make that affordable, as well as provide concrete skills through the internship, makes me proud to have the scholarship bear my name..”
“Emeril is an inspiration to all of our culinary students who come here to do the same thing he did, follow their dreams and find their passion in life,” said John J. Bowen, university president. “Having Emeril work with us on this event helps to strengthen our mission of providing students with practical, quality and affordable education, and for that we are extremely grateful.”
Getting the industry involved
Eighty-four local and national companies sponsored the event where 112 golfers participated to help Lagasse achieve his goal of mentoring and inspiring young people. Founding Golf Classic Partners include PepsiCo Foodservice, J&W, The Emeril Lagasse Foundation, TPC-Boston and Nation’s Restaurant News. Event sponsors for this year’s event also included B&G Foods, Bank of America, Boston Beer Co., Cintas Corp., Coca-Cola N.A., Dunkin’ Brands Inc., Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and U.S. Foodservice.
“The goal of The Emeril Lagasse Foundation is to inspire and mentor young people, and the Golf Classic is one of several ways that Emeril is able to accomplish that goal,” said Steve Caldeira, tournament chairman and co-founder, president and chief executive of The Elliot Leadership Institute in Tarrytown, N.Y. “The outstanding support from very generous sponsors allows us to provide Johnson & Wales students with the tangible skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in the $513 billion dollar foodservice industry.”
In 2001, “The Emeril Lagasse Scholarship Fund at Johnson & Wales University” was established by the Scripps Howard Foundation and Johnson & Wales to celebrate the taping of the 1,000th episode of the Emeril Live! program for the Food Network.
Emeril (center) poses with 2 scholarship recipients, Adrienne Smith and Christopher Walker.