Nearly 20 years after Emeril Lagasse begged, borrowed and scrounged every penny he could to open his own restaurant, the celebrity chef worried it was all slipping away.
Lagasse’s 17-year run on the Food Network was over. Hurricane Katrina had caused at least a $1 million loss to his three New Orleans-based restaurants and cut his profits by a third.
But just when things were looking bleakest — Bam! — Martha Stewart kicked it up a notch and the 50-year-old Lagasse is back.
“She showed up at a tough time when I thought the whole ship might be going down,” Lagasse said during a recent interview. “Basically, what I have now is a business partner.”
He also has a string of successful restaurants, a new television program, regular appearances in Stewart’s magazines, and has a 10-cookbook publishing deal (the third of which will be released in June).
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the New York-based media and merchandising company founded by the domesticity maven, in 2008 bought the rights to Lagasse’s franchise of cookbooks, television shows and kitchen products from him for $45 million in cash and $5 million in stock. The final price could rise to up to $70 million.