The celebrity chef trades in “Bam!” for “Hotty Toddy” as his daughter picks Ole Miss as her college home.
Emeril Lagasse may have to change his catch phrase from “kick it up a notch” or “bam!” to “Hoddy Toddy.” He is officially an Ole Miss dad now. His youngest daughter, Meril, just started her freshman year at the University, and the famous chef was there last weekend when she accepted a bid to join the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
Ole Miss has one of the largest Greek systems in the country, and over 2,000 girls signed up this year for formal recruitment into the system which is known for being notoriously competitive. So much so that many girls hire sorority rush coaches to help them navigate the recruiting waters with the prize being a bid from one of the twelve sororities on campus.
Meril follows in her mother’s footsteps as a Tri Delt. Alden Lovelace Lagasse, a Mississippi native, was in the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter of Delta Delta Delta at Ole Miss. The sorority has been active at Ole Miss since it was established there in 1978. Meril is actually a third generation to attend Ole Miss – her grandfather, Alden’s father, Kent Lovelace lettered in football at Ole Miss from 1955 to 1958 before being picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958.
Alden graduated from Ole Miss in 1978 with a degree in journalism. She is now a successful real estate broker in Florida, and she has her own clothing line.
Emeril Lagasse is a celebrity chef, a restauranteur, a cookbook author, a James Beard Award winner and thanks to being a television personality, he is a household name across the country. A native of Fall Lake, Massachusetts, Emeril learned to bake as a teenager when he was working in a Portuguese bakery. While his mad percussion skills earned him a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, Emeril chose a different path. He attended Johnson & Wales University with dreams of becoming a chef.
A job offer he couldn’t refuse brought him to New Orleans in 1982, when he succeeded Chef Paul Prudhomme at Commander’s Palace under the direction of Richard Brennan. He became a master of Creole and Cajun cuisine, and he developed his own New Orleans style of cooking which he refers to as “New New Orleans.” Because of his distinctive accent and his proficiency in using regional ingredients so well, people often mistake him for a born-and-raised New Orleans native.
Emeril’s in New Orleans opened in 1990, and was named Restaurant of the Year that same year by Esquire magazine. Emeril’s has been a recipient of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award every year since 1999. And while Emeril is often seen in his namesake restaurant, he moved with his family to Destin, Florida in 2011.
The father of four children, Emeril has two daughters with his first wife, and a daughter and son with his wife, Alden. The couple married in May 2000 and had their son, Emeril J. Lagasse (“EJ”) and daughter Meril. EJ is following in his father’s footsteps and has dedicated himself to becoming a master chef. Meril has not yet declared a major.