What’s it like to have the famous TV chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse make you a meal?
Northbrook resident Jon Harris recently got to find out. The senior vice president of global communications for was one of five taste testers for an upcoming episode of Lagasse’s new Hallmark show, Emeril’s Table. Harris and his fellow taste testers watched Lagasse prepare sports-party themed food, then sampled the results. The feast included French Dip sandwiches, cheesy beer dip and marinated sushi-grade tuna served on fried wontons with wasabi vinaigrette.
“I came home and I told my wife, I have just sat at Emeril’s table, and I have to tell you, I sat at heaven’s table,” said Harris. “If there had to be a last supper, that would totally be a last supper.”
Patch talked to Harris, who has three children in Northbrook’s , to find out what it was like to sit down for a meal with the famous chef. The episode Harris will be in airs at 10 a.m. Central Time Friday, Oct. 21, on the Hallmark channel.
Patch: How did you get on the show?
Harris: One of my dear friends is the executive producer and creator of the show and she asked me if I would be open to doing it. It combined two of the things I love most: one is eating, and two is eating.
Patch: Are you a big fan of Emeril?
Harris: A huge fan. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to some of the restaurants in New Orleans and other cities.
Patch: So what’s he like in person?
Harris: He is as real and as wonderful a guy as you would expect. Who he is off camera and on camera is the same guy.
Patch: What was your favorite dish?
Harris: I particularly liked the tuna that he cooked…I did love his cheesy beer dip with soft pretzels—that might have been my favorite, but everything was so delicious. As you can imagine, it was one of the greatest meals I’ve had in my life.
Patch: Did you hear the trademark “bam”?
Harris: He’s kind of trying to get away from “bam” right now, which is very interesting. He did not mention it at all—I was waiting for it!
Patch: Who cooks in the Harris household?
Harris: My wife is an amazing cook, I am very fortunate…I kind of stay in the back, but sometimes I grill.
Patch: What are some of your favorite restaurants in the area?
Harris: My favorite breakfast joint is the wonderful . It’s fantastic. In Glenview, I still love , too. My wife loves Avli—it’s a Greek restaurant. We were just there on Saturday night.
I’m a huge fan of Lettuce Entertain You, because I’m fortunate enough to also know the Melmans [Rich Melman owns the Chicago-based restaurant group, which has more than 80 restaurants nationwide]. I love Wildfire in Glenview, and I also love .
Patch: It would be nice to have an Emeril Lagasse restaurant in our area.
Harris: I said, ‘Is there a chance that you would open up something in Chicago?’ and he did say perhaps. I would love to have an Emeril restaurant in downtown Northbrook.
If you’d like to try the cheesy beer dip Emeril made on the show with Harris, here is the recipe, courtesy of the show's producers:
THE ULTIMATE CHEESE DIP: CHEESY BEER
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, copyright MSLO, Inc., all rights reserved
5 tablespoons salted butter
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons minced shallot
¼ cup minced garlic
1 ½ cups dark beer
4 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces total)
¾ cup grated Swiss cheese (about 3 ounces total)
4 slices American cheese (about 3 ounces total)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Soft pretzels, chips, or jerky, for serving
Heat the butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. When melted add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until the roux turns golden brown and begins to smell nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the beer, bring to a high simmer, and continue to cook until the beer is reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the cream, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer (stirring often to prevent boiling over). Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens considerably, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf.
Whisk in the grated cheeses a handful at a time. Season with the salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with soft pretzels, chips, and jerky of choice.
Yield: about 1 quart