Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 14 restaurants, including four in New Orleans (Emeril’s, NOLA, Emeril’s Delmonico and Meril); four in Las Vegas (Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Delmonico Steakhouse, Table 10 and Lagasse’s Stadium); two in Orlando (Emeril’s Orlando and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop); and three at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Pennsylvania (Emeril’s Fish House, Emeril’s Chop House and Burgers And More by Emeril). Most recently he opened his 14th restaurant in Miramar Beach, Florida (Emeril’s Coastal Italian).
As a national TV personality, he has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America. Most recently, Amazon launched an original series featuring Lagasse called Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse. The series received five daytime Emmy nominations and won Outstanding Culinary Program. The series was also a James Beard semifinalist in the category Outstanding Personality of Host. Lagasse has appeared as a guest judge in four seasons of Bravo’s hit food series Top Chef, was named a co-host on the 10th season of the Rachael Ray Show, and has appeared on the Cooking Channel with five seasons of Emeril’s Florida. He is the bestselling author of 19 cookbooks, the latest, Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen, released in October 2015.
In 2002, Lagasse established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills. To date, the Foundation has distributed $7 million in grants benefitting children’s charities in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. In 2013, Lagasse was named the Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation for his dedicated efforts to further the culinary arts in America, as well as his philanthropic work supporting children’s educational programs through his Foundation.
In December 2015, Sequential Brands Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:SQBG) acquired the assets related to Emeril Lagasse’s media and merchandising business, including television programming, cookbooks, the Emerils.com website and his licensed kitchen and food products.
Chef de Cuisine
Armed with more than 20 years of experience in the culinary arts, Ryan Vargas took the helm at Emeril's Tchoup Chop at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando as chef de cuisine in October 2013. Vargas, a Hawaii native, joined Emeril's Tchoup Chop after spending about 13 years leading the kitchens at some of the island's top resorts, including the Four Seasons Resort in Hualalai and the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua Maui. Before moving to Orlando, Vargas also led the kitchen at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where in 2011 he was voted as "Palm Beach County Best Chef" by the Palm Beach Post.
Growing up on the island of O'ahu in Hawaii, Vargas looked up to his father, who was the Master Chief Chef for the U.S. Navy, and inherited his love of great cuisine. "He would take me to the mess hall, and I recall being excited and amazed with the sights, sounds and smells," Vargas remembers. "I knew at the age of 5 that I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps."
Complementing Executive Chef Emeril Lagasse's bold and fresh flavors, Vargas describes his style of cooking as "fun and whimsical, classics-with-a-twist, and not complicated but refined." His techniques and styles reflect the melting pot of island life, mixing different Asian cuisines with Pacific Island influences.
Classically trained, Vargas graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y. in 1991 with an associate's degree in Culinary Arts. He lives in Orlando with his wife, Rhonda, and their three children, Lakea, Lilinoe and Rocco.
With more than twelve years of experience, Leeroy Castillo is no stranger to the hospitality industry. Castillo began his career in 2004 as a Food Runner at the Islands Dining Room located at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal® Orlando. In 2009, he joined the Emeril’s Tchoup Chop team as a Food Runner. Eager to expand his skills and grow with the company, Castillo later earned positions as a Busser, Back Server, Front Server and Restaurant Manager. In 2016, Castillo was promoted to General Manager of Emeril’s Tchoup Chop where he oversees all front-of-house operations.
A son of a military father, Castillo’s family traveled from city to city prior to making Orlando home in 1996. Today, Castillo lives with his wife, Olga and their two children, Angelika and Lukas.