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Who Dat? Exclusive Emeril Lagasse Interview

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The ultimate Who Dat, Emeril Lagasse is in Miami Beach for Super Bowl weekend to cheer on his hometown Saints, whip up New Orleans-themed snacks at his eponymous restaurant and hang out with famous friends like Mario Batali and Archie Manning. His eatery, Emeril's Miami Beach, has turned into the HQ for the Who Dat nation. On Sunday, they'll be hosting a food- and booze-soaked celebration for the Saints (tickets are still available). Emeril, of course, will be at the big game rooting for Drew Brees and co. to win the Super Bowl.

I was able to catch up with my friend Emeril over barbecue shrimp and lobster gnocchi. Below, some of our Super Bowl musings.

New Times: What does it mean to you that the Saints are in the Super Bowl?

Emeril Lagasse: I've been a Saints fan for 28 years. I've been a ticket holder for 25. When we almost lost the Saints, after Katrina, there was a group of us who decided to step up to the plate, and we all bought suites. Since Katrina, I've been a suite-holder. I go to as many games as I can. I was at the game when they won the NFC Championship. I was also at the game when they played for that in 2007, when the Bears beat them in Chicago. I cried. I've never been treated more poorly. They were nasty fans. And here we are. It's a beautiful thing, but it's bittersweet for me. The Mannings are from New Orleans. Archie will be here for dinner on Saturday. They are New Orleans boys. That's what makes it special. I've been following this crazy sport for a long time. I've been to ten Super Bowls. This is the game. It's unbelievable.

NT: What does this mean for New Orleans?

EL: The city is upside-down. We don't burn cars; we dance on them. Win or lose, they are having a parade. They have closed the schools on Monday. It's unbelievable.

NT: What is your prediction for Sunday?

EL: It's going to be an exceptional game. You have to be careful with Peyton because he's a machine. Nobody studies the game like he does. He's sick about it. I know this because I know him. The team was making fun of him because on Sunday when he came from Indianapolis, all he did was study film on the airplane. But our defense is very strong. I'm predicting that the Saints are going to win 27-20.

NT: What are the perfect New Orleans-flavored Super Bowl snacks?

EL: We are going to be doing a lot of them here. It's very different. If you ask people what the top five foods are for Super Bowl, they'll say chicken wings, salsa, chili, ribs and pizza. If you ask someone from New Orleans what are your five Super Bowl dishes, they'll tell you gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, roasted pork butt and crawfish. We are doing these dishes Sunday for my Super Bowl party. We are going to have everything from crawfish to caviar. We are going to have a good time. There will be a lot of Who Dats here, who can't get tickets to the game.

NT: The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is coming up at the end of the month. What are you looking forward to most about the event?

EL: As you know, I'm hosting the Bubble Q. I have a lot of pals coming in for that. We are going to do my version of pulled pork with spicy coleslaw and homemade pickles on a little onion bun. I'm doing a demonstration on Saturday and they have talked me into doing a demonstration on Sunday. I never do Sunday. They say the Festival is bigger than ever. HSN is even coming on the beach and doing a live broadcast.

NT: How is Emeril's Miami Beach doing?

EL: The restaurant is doing great. The staff is doing a great job. They are doing delicious food. We don't just rely on hotel guests. The hotel is out for the hotel. There's nothing wrong with that. We rely on locals, too. We want to be a local restaurant. It's very seasonal, as you know, but that's the way Miami Beach is. We do what we have to do.

NT: You have a new TV show coming up.

EL: Yes, it's going to air on ION, which is a national network. It used to be PAX. The Emeril Lagasse Show is going to be their first original programming. It's going to be a mature Emeril Live. There won't be as much as cooking. There will be a lot of guests, from Eli Manning to Tina Fey. That starts at the end of March, Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

NT: Last year, I cooked dinner for you in my home. Are you still thinking about my stuffed mushrooms?

EL: They were the best stuffed mushrooms. The crab cakes were pretty damn close, too. That was a great meal and a lot of fun.

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