Emeril Lagasse Basically Disappeared From TV. It's Clear Now Why

A few years ago, if you made a list of the most well-known celebrity chefs in the business — the kind who were in the realm of Food Network stars like Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentis — you would have likely included Emeril Lagasse. Along with being popular for whipping up delicious meals and entertaining his at-home audience, fans will also surely remember his simple yet endearing catchphrase. Yes, that's right, we're referring to his signature BAM, an expression that Lagasse used to add some extra emphasis to his culinary technique.

During his time in the spotlight, Lagasse was such a beloved household name that he went on to launch his own line of branded products, such as sauces, seasonings, cutlery, cookware, and appliances. On top of that, he released 19 (yes, 19!) bestselling cookbooks, including Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking, Emeril's There's A Chef In My Soup, and lip-smackingly festive Emeril's Creole Christmas.

While that all sounds like a surefire recipe for success, Lagasse ended up going through some rather tough times and experiencing some unexpected bumps in the road. The famous foodie basically disappeared from television. Read on to find out why!

Emeril Lagasse couldn't cook up a comeback after Emeril Live

If you were an Emeril Lagasse fan back in the day, that's likely because you watched Emeril Live. Premiering in 1997 and running for 11 seasons, it was eventually canceled in 2007. Years later, the chef told GQ, "When it ended, everybody felt like it was time for a little break." He also admitted, "I didn't necessarily think that, but that's what everybody else thought, that maybe it was time for a break from Emeril."

While the star had other onscreen opportunities, they didn't quite pan out either. Essence of Emeril left the air in 2008, while Emeril's Florida and Emeril Green never quite seemed to sizzle the way his earlier show did.

The star might have also turned the heat back up on his career if he'd been able to switch things up a bit. "They wanted me to create these reality shows for Food Network," he explained to GQ. "[A]t the time I just wasn't into it. I'm old-fashioned, and I want to teach people how to cook, how to eat, how to serve, how to shop, how to drink wine, how to mix a cocktail properly. I didn't necessarily at the time want to get into this competition stuff." Granted, he did end up dipping into the reality TV punch bowl with his TNT series On the Menu, but that wasn't exactly a palatable success.

While a TV-related comeback hasn't worked out for Lagasse, he did make a rather surprising money-making move.

Emeril Lagasse sold his brand to Martha Stewart

Emeril Lagasse may not have been able to keep up his onscreen success by doing reality TV, but he did make a major money-making move that was pretty unexpected. In 2008, the year following the end of Emeril Live, the star sold his brand to another powerhouse in the food scene: Martha Stewart.

That means that Lagasse gave up pretty much every business venture that he'd created, save his restaurants. His cookbooks, kitchen products, and food items were all handed over to Stewart. The same went for his website and his past work on TV, including "The Essence of Emeril and syndication episodes of Emeril Live on the Food Network," as well as "food correspondent segments on ABC's Good Morning America," according to Serious Eats.

Stewart talked to The New York Times about her appetizing acquisition, saying, "His tastes are very different from mine, as is his food, and I think that's good." She added, "Being complementary and different is better than being competitive."

So how much did it cost Stewart to buy up Legasse's brand? Well, a sweet $50 million. And that's a good thing for Legasse because it turns out that his restaurants have faced some serious issues in the past and weren't exactly bringing in the big bucks. In fact, a few ended up closing.

Emeril Lagasse's restaurants faced trouble

Considering the fact that Emeril Lagasse sold the bulk of the brand that he had built up over the years to Martha Stewart, you might assume that he has had plenty of time to launch another successful TV show. However, it turns out that the chef has been busy facing a few serious issues behind the scenes when it comes to his restaurants.

"I have nowhere to go, really — other than broke... It's becoming a very challenging industry to become a very successful average restaurateur," Lagasse explained during a 2014 event (via The Week). He added, "I can't charge $300 a person in my restaurant or I would not be in business." That became perfectly clear when Legasse had to start shutting down some of his restaurants.

After opening Table 10 at The Palazzo in Las Vegas in 2007, the same year that Emeril Live ended, Lagasse closed the restaurant in 2014, "opt[ing] not to resign a lease at the Grand Canal Shoppes," according to Eater. That was followed by the closure of Tchoup Chop in 2017 and Emeril's Restaurant Orlando the year after that.

While he still owns other eateries around the country, it seems obvious why he might want to focus on serving quality food over appearing on TV.