Well Served: E.J. Lagasse takes the reins at his father’s flagship restaurant

Plus other foodie news, including cocoa–inspired experiences in Elizabeth City and new and noteworthy eats from across the Southeast
E.J. Lagasse at Emeril’s

Photo by Romney Caruso

Chef Spotlight: E.J. Lagasse
Last year, the 20-year-old chef and son of Emeril Lagasse took over the kitchen of his father’s flagship restaurant in New Orleans. Just like his dad, the young chef pushes boundaries with a modern approach to cooking—but still respects the traditions of the iconic establishment’s unfailing favorites.

Mix Master | “We have two seven-course menus: a seasonal and a classic one. With the seasonal, we’re using the best of Louisiana produce. The classic menu is like a greatest hits album—but remixed. I’m trying to improve upon the grand slams my dad created in the ’90s and keep them stylistically relevant.”

The OG | “The smoked salmon cheesecake was the first dish ever written on an Emeril’s menu; there have been so many versions. Currently, it has cream cheese, smoked salmon salad, and caviar on top. It’s delicious and probably the most photographed dish—all the cell phones come out.”

Smoked salmon cheesecake at Emeril’s

Photo by Romney Caruso

First-Time Tip | “Let your captain [server] know that you’d like the kitchen to cook for you. We’ll combine the menus for you and send out what we’re really loving right then. We’ll blend some of the old and the new and make you happy.”

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Experience: Hook, Line, & Supper

Head out on a private fishing charter in northeast Florida with a chef from Salt, the signature restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Then enjoy your catch that evening at a multicourse dinner at the restaurant’s Kitchen Table, a private dining room looking into the kitchen, where you can watch chefs create artistic seafood dishes such as snapper crudo and striped bass with squid ink pasta.

Sweet Sips: Hot Cocoa Crawl

Dubbed the Hot Cocoa Capital of the World, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, whips up frothy fun from November to January. Try the red wine hot chocolate at 2 Souls Wine Bar or a cocoa-brewed stout at Pine & Porch brew house and shop. Cocoa-inspired experiences—such as the hot cocoa jelly masque at Elizabeth City Med Spa—are the cherry on top.

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Now Open: New & Noteworthy Eats

Little Coyote
Chattanooga, Tennessee
At the base of Lookout Mountain, this Southwest-inspired restaurant recently opened by two-time James Beard nominee Chef Erik Neal serves up smoked meats, homemade picos, and more than 100 varieties of tequilas, mezcals, and other agave spirits.

Marcus Bar & Grille
Atlanta, Georgia
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson (of Red Rooster Harlem fame) has launched his first Georgia restaurant in the city’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. The open kitchen with live-fire cooking serves dishes like oysters on the half shell, “Everything Wings,” brisket over fries, and jerk pork belly.

Jerk pork belly at Marcus Bar & Grill

Photo courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee

Wilmington, North Carolina
James Beard nominee Chef Sunny Gerhart (of St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar in Raleigh) always wanted to open a restaurant in this port city. Christened with his mother’s maiden name, Olivero features homemade pastas with local seafood such as fettucine with blue crab and corn, and meats and vegetables cooked over a wood-fire grill.

This article appears in the Fall 2023 issue of Southbound.