Emeril Lagasse is back with a new cooking show, "Emeril's Table," for the Hallmark Channel. On each episode, the famous chef cooks for a handful of guests at his table, as he shows them how to create some of his classic dishes. Lagasse, a food correspondent for "Good Morning America," also has a new cookbook: "Sizzling Skillets and other One-Pot Wonders."
Lagasse picks New Orleans as one of the all-time great food destinations.
"We have unbelievable food here in New Orleans," said Lagasse, 51. "There is a season for everything down here — shrimp, oysters, strawberries, crabs. No other place has such a direct connection to the farms and fisheries."
Q: If you had to pick, which city has it all foodwise?
A: New York has every cuisine imaginable, so it would be my top pick, based on the incredible variety and many different cultures and styles of cooking.
Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants?
A: That's a tough one. I love all of Mario Batali's places, especially Babbo (babbonyc.com); Cafe Boulud (danielnyc.com/cafebouludny.html); David Burke (davidburke.com); and Brio (brioitalian.com/index.html) has wonderful Italian.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: Ibiza because of the beautiful waters and fresh seafood (on the Spanish island). Spain also has some of the richest culinary traditions and truly appreciates food that is simply prepared with top-notch ingredients.
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: My wife, Alden, and her family are from the Gulf Coast, so when the weather is nice, we'd go to Destin (Fla). I get down to Florida as much as I can for the great fishing and spend some time with my family. And, of course, I'll be cooking!
Q: What are your favorite hotels?
A: Beverly Hills Hotel (beverlyhillshotel.com), Four Seasons (fourseasons.com) and The Pierre (tinyurl.com/3bmp8z4).
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: New Orleans, New York, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon.
Q: What have you learned about food from your travels?
A: Food is very representative of a city's culture. In order to really get to know a place and the people, you've got to eat the food.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A: Every so often, I'll grab a bag of Zapp's (potato chips). I still keep a few bags stashed in my freezer. I love oysters too. Oysters are one of my wife's favorites, so we'd dine on raw oysters topped with caviar. Pair it with chilled champagne, and it's the perfect light afternoon snack.
Q: What is your best vacation memory?
A: Sitting on the beach in Ibiza with my family and friends having a relaxing lunch. I like to keep things simple. It's really about the wine, food and the beach view. Nothing can beat that.
For more from the reporter, visit jaehakim.com.