Posted to Teevee at 10:26 AM on Dec 3, 2004
I admit it. I have a soft spot for Emeril.
He reminds me of my dad. Like Emeril, Ed is a French-Canadian from Massachusetts. They even use some of the same odd turns of phrase,like "you won't hurt my feelins". They both have that yankee-french accent that makes you think, "Lod? Lod? What's lod? Ooooohhhhh, LARD!".
Emeril is a brand, like Madonna. He ceased to be a chef as we know them a long time ago. Now, he's doing commercials for toothpaste and he has his own line of spice mixes at the grocery store. His omnipresence has turned previously kitchen-phobic folks into foodies. He's made it fashionable for people to like food. Consequently, he has groupies.
I think the groupies...er, I mean, live audience, are the most irritating part of Emeril Live. Emeril plays to them, and they hoot and holler and drool like a bunch of frat boys. They're not going to watch someone cook; they're there to watch the Madonna (or, you know, whoever the kids listen to these days) of chefdom perform. They melt into hysterical puddles whenever Emeril says "garlic" or "beer". You should hear them when Emeril shakes the powdered sugar canister over a dessert. It's like "Stairway to Heaven".
Because so much attention is paid to Emeril's showmanship, there's little emphasis on technique. It's hard to imagine that many in the audience are watching Emeril fold egg whites and taking note of what he's doing. In fact, some of them might not even know that folded egg whites go into chocolate mousse. I have a hunch that many of Emeril's big fans didn't know anything about cooking when they tuned in, but thanks to the mass-marketing of food and cooking, they're latching onto it like they did racquetball or knitting previously. There's a faddish aspect to DIY cuisine, thanks in part to Emeril, and more specifically, this show.
As talented as Emeril is, I think the stars of his show are his sous-chefs and and prep cooks. Everything is always exactly right, and whenever Emeril is joking around with the band or chatting with a guest, he rarely really messes up because everything is so well-prepared. Never mind James Brown, the kitchen staff at Emeril Live are the hardest working people in show business.