Monday, October 8, 2012

The day I met Emeril Lagasse + #SeriousSandwich Giveaway

Emeril Lagasse.


Back in the days when I worked for a small independent bookstore, cookbooks were my passion (well, they still are), and I eagerly awaited the publisher's catalogs to see what new titles would be available each season, especially the fall. Each autumn, my boss, the owner of the bookstore, would give us one great perk and that was a ticket to SEBA, the Southeastern Booksellers convention, held in a different Southeastern city in September or October. These conferences were a book geek’s idea of heaven. A show floor filled with vendor booths and sales reps dispensing advance review copies of new titles, along with the occasional imprinted water bottle or t-shirt.

There were also lunches and dinners with well-known authors, and along with the meal, attendees would receive signed copies of the authors’ books. In Nashville, I got a signed copy of Waylon Jennings’ autobiography, written about a year before he died. I have signed copies of most of Carl Hiaasen’s crazy-ass Florida mysteries. (Hiaasen, by the way, is just as entertaining as a speaker as on the page.) Legendary authors such as Pat Conroy and James Dickey attended these conventions, kindly met with booksellers and signed books. Conroy, in fact, is one of the nicest authors I’ve ever met. Patiently talking with everyone who lined up to meet him, signing books, taking pictures.

And the very last SEBA I attended, way back in 1997, in Mobile, Alabama, a regional chef who was about to hit it big time, spoke at the Saturday lunch. He was a fellow from New Orleans, but he talked like a Yankee. And his name was Emeril Lagasse. This was at the beginning of his television career, when “Emeril Live” was just hitting the airwaves and Food Network was adding markets.

I remember he showed how to make a quick bread while standing at a podium in his chef whites. Not an ideal set-up for a kitchen demo, but he plowed through, telling us a little about the recipe, his cookbook, restaurant and cooking show. Everyone at the lunch received signed copies of his new book, "Emeril's Creole Christimas," and I brought along my copy of "Louisiana Real and Rustic" for him to sign. When I talked to him after the speech, I mentioned that I left my copy of “New New Orleans Cuisine at Home” and he said, “well bless your heart” a little bit of Southern speak in that Massachusetts growl.

This, of course, was 15 years ago, across the digital divide, before everyone carried a camera in their pocket, so I have no pictures. But I do have something pretty cool, Emeril's signature in "Louisiana Real and Rustic." I think signatures tell a lot about authors. Here's Emeril's, just as big a personality on the page as in person. When he signs your book, he really signs the book:

Signed copy of Louisiana Real and Rustic by Emeril Lagasse. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
 Now's your chance to win a copy of Emeril's newest cookbook, "Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches" from Morrow Books. I've been reading and cooking from this book for several weeks, and it's terrific - nearly 100 recipes for sandwiches from banh mi to French toast, croque madame to muffuletta, tons of full-color photographs (more on those later this week) and loads of inspiration for bringing some "Bam!" into your kitchen.

To win this cookbook, all you have to do is leave a comment here on this post and tell me your favorite Emeril-ism. "Bam" is classic. I find myself saying "notches unknown" when I'm cooking. I'm sure you have a favorite, so just tell me in the comments. A winner will be drawn at random on Friday, October 12. (And just a reminder to comment in such a way that I know who you are - leave an email, url or other identifying factor. I'll draw a winner on Friday and let them know they have won. If I don't get confirmation within 24 hours, I'll draw another name.)

This contest is now closed


Text and image of book signature copyright 2012, Lucy Mercer.





If you love cookbooks like I do, you gotta follow The Secret Ingredient Blog from Morrow Books.

20 comments:

Susan 30A EATS said...

Great Story! Maybe one day I will "Actually" meet Emeril. I have passed Emeril in Publix shopping, sat next to he and his family twice when dining at one of my favorite restaurants, and have been to a local charity event where he was present, but never introduce myself as I don't want to be a "bother." Looking forward to sharing more #SeriousSandwiches with you! :)

Kimberly said...

What a fabulous story! I am so jealous you have a signed Emeril cookbook in your collection!

Addie K Martin said...

Great story! :) Awesome that you were able to have your books signed by Emeril.

Lucy Mercer said...

Susan - you are an Emeril magnet! Pretty soon, he'll be asking you if he knows you from somewhere!

Lucy Mercer said...

Kimberly & Addie - thanks for visiting!

Joan said...

One of my favorite Emerilisms is "It's not rocket science".

joosbornenc at yahoo dot com

Lucy Mercer said...

And we have a contestant, folks! Keep the comments coming!

Grace Hwang Lynch said...

Kick it up a notch! I've never met Emeril but visited his NOLA restaurant in New Orleans.

Lucy Mercer said...

Thanks for visiting, Grace!

Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos said...

He is just a sweet guy! What a wonderful story :)

bbqchick said...

My favorite catch phrase from Emril is, "Kick it up a notch!" I always like food on the spicier side and when I first heard him say that I knew my tastes were just fine.
Laura J

jbjllc at gmail.com

Lucy Mercer said...

Awesome, bbqchick! Thanks for visiting!

Priscilla Tyndall said...

My favorite phrase is "Ahhh baby!".

Pristyn@comcast.net
Priscilla Tyndall

Terry said...

Terry Hutchinson..
BAM!!! (this was one of my first words as a baby ~ for anything round):D


hutchinson_terry@columbusstate.edu

wendy robertson said...

Hi Lucy!
Just love your blog! A nice combo of your wit, humor and good writing combined with one of my favorite things-food! So now that I live near NOLA I've gotten interested in regional cooking. So, just had to read your post about meeting one of the granddddies of NOLA cuisine! Too, having none of his cookbooks I will play. So I think 'oh yeah baby!' is my fav Emerilism for it captures the free spirit fun of NOLA.

Andrew's Mom said...

Great story! I like "it's not rocket science" and I believe I have almost all his books would love to add this one! jenhartin at optonline dot net

gail said...

kick it up a notch
gkuroda(at)gmail(d0t)com

Momma Bear said...

I'd love it! We were lucky enough to see Emeril taping a show in Washington DC at the National Mall. Of course.. EVERYONE waited for him to do his famous "BAM"! He got a standing ovation! It was a great day! One I'll never forget!

Jenna@LittleKitchenBigFlavors said...

I love catching Emeril's show on cooking channel. Everything he makes always looks fairly easy and delicious!

Alice said...

I love saying BAM! when Im cooking with the hubby :) so silly and fun!