SANDESTIN – Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. Such was the case with Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant right here on the Emerald Coast. While the pandemic forced the temporary closure of Emeril’s Coastal Italian last summer, he and his staff were busy re-imagining the Grand Boulevard eatery.
When the doors reopened in August, guests found a revamped dining room and a new menu, with a renewed focus on seafood. Lagasse and his chef de cuisine, Frank Szymanski, let the ingredients take the lead, creating dishes they themselves want to eat.
“I have always loved seafood and have a connection to cooking with seafood since I was a kid,” Lagasse admitted. “I’ve always felt the food tastes better when you have a connection and appreciation for the ingredients.”
With the Gulf Coast in their backyard, their list of potential local suppliers is as impressive as it was extensive – something Lagasse has believed in throughout his career.
“There are so many hard-working and reliable local purveyors who source these ingredients with care and attention, and I wanted to support what they are doing because it’s so important,” he said. “We are lucky to have such fresh seafood and vegetation in our area that it would be foolish not to use what’s right here and available to us.”
New to the table
So what might you find on the menu at Emeril’s Coastal? Chef pointed out the Fresh Catch section as a fine example of the local seafood his team brings in daily.
“You can get your fish prepared one of four ways: Grilled with sea salt, lemon-garlic infused olive oil and local root vegetables; fried with cocktail sauces, tartar and blue crab hushpuppies; broiled with lemon, fumet butter and bay laurel; or cast-iron preparation with essence, Creole meuniere and a cheddar grit cake,” he explained.
He also recommends the miso orange-glazed wild caught salmon.
“It has some international flavors to accompany it, including my daughter’s Kimchi which she and her husband Andy make locally, and it’s so good,” Lagasse added.
Hometown foodies might recognize other local purveyors including Black Bear Bread Co. of Grayton Beach, Shane Cochran Honey from Santa Rosa Beach, and Louisiana Lagniappe Inc. and Destin Ice Seafood Market in Destin.
Coastal fans will still find some old favorites on the revised menu, including the Fettuccine Nero, Pineapple Upside-down Cornbread, house-made ice creams and sorbets, and the fabled Olive Oil Cake.
Lagasse and Szymanski like to switch things up from time to time with their seasonal meals. 2020 saw the return of their eight-course Feast of the Seven Fishes, Trufflemania, A Night in France, and A Night in Portugal, in addition to holiday meals and nightly specials.
An extensive wine list joins the Dessert Cocktails and Nightcaps menus, ensuring you have a beverage to pair with every plate. From the Grown Up Abita Root Beer Float, to a 1.5-ounce pour of Remy Martin Louis XIII or a bottle of Colgin IX Estate ‘14, there’s something to suit every palate.
In addition to outfitting the kitchen with some new equipment to support the menu adjustments, the dining room itself saw a refresh as well. Lagasse capitalized on this opportunity to do a housekeeping and renovation project.
“My wife Alden helped with switching out some of the art to reflect a more seafood-driven motif,” Lagasse said. “We love the space and didn’t want to change much, just made tweaks and got to do some projects that are difficult to execute.”
The adjoining outdoor patio has proved even more popular than normal since the reopening. The space is outfitted with fans, umbrellas, misters, and heaters.
On occasion, you might even see Lagasse’s son EJ behind the pass, home from culinary school at his father’s alma mater, Johnson and Wales. Lagasse insists he never pushed his son into the industry, but is proud to see him working hard at ensuring the family’s dining empire has a long and delectable future ahead.
Emeril’s Coastal is located at 435 Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach, and is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday (9:30 on Friday and Saturday), and Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reach them by phone at 850-608-7040, or visit emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-coastal/
Lagasse Foundation grants $500K to Seaside School at Taste of the Race
By Michelle Farnham
Emeril Lagasse wants to get down to the meat and potatoes of education – literally. The famed chef stole the show at the fourth annual Taste of the Race fundraiser and culinary event March 2, announcing the Emeril Lagasse Foundation would be presenting a $500,000 grant to the Seaside School Foundation.
That money will be earmarked for the implementation of a new culinary-based curriculum, one the foundation worked with some of the top curriculum designers in the country to create. Plans also call for the creation of the 1,800-square-foot Emeril Lagasse Culinary Kitchen and Schoolyard Garden at Seaside Neighborhood School, as well as three additional classroom buildings and a performing arts center. Additionally, Seaside Neighborhood School – ranked No. 8 among Florida charter schools – will finally be able to expand to the elementary grades.
“It’s wonderful to be a local and support the local scene of what we’re doing – not only as restaurateurs and chefs. I’ve experienced (Seaside Neighborhood School) with two children. This is a very, very special place,” Lagasse said.
Brian Kish, president of the ELF, stressed the importance of refocusing students’ outlook toward food.
“These kids are going to know where their food comes from, they’re going to appreciate the food, they’re going to understand how hard it is to grow and prepare food,” Kish said. “They’re going to eat healthy and share conversation around a kitchen table again.”
Rick Helfand, chairman of the Seaside School Foundation Board, is pleased to see the long-awaited goal of adding younger grades finally coming to fruition.
“This is an amazing opportunity for the Seaside School. We’re adding grades K through 4. We’ll have a K through 12 probably in the next year-and-a-half or so. We should start construction in the next four or five months,” Helfand explained.
Event co-chair and local restaurateur Jim Shirley revealed that the foundation has been raising money to build out the elementary school as part of a grassroots effort.
“We’re three-quarters of the way there, underground and within our group. Now we’re publicly announcing that we are fundraising for this school,” Shirley said. “Emeril has this incredible vision for a culinary garden and teaching kitchen. We’re going to build one here and combine that incredible idea of everything that’s culinary is science, is history, is reading, writing, it’s math, it’s everything. Everything about cooking is education.”
Lagasse feels this shift of focus is an excellent lesson in practical learning.
“When you think about cooking, it’s more than just turning on a stove and putting in ingredients,” Lagasse explained. “What are those ingredients? Where do they come from? The equivalent of math to that: a cup, a quarter, a pound, an ounce, a tablespoon. Not only the mathematical part of that, but the educational part of that, the resource part of that. These children have a great opportunity, and when you talk to these kids, they’re super-excited about what’s happening.”
As part of the fundraising effort, longtime Seaside restaurant owner Dave Rauschkolb and Kish hosted a Raise the Paddle, seeing large monetary donations coming in from the likes of Spell Restaurant Group, Bud & Alley’s, Amavida Coffee, George and Ann Hartley, Geoff Chick, Dan Buckner, and Word of Mouth Restaurant Group, to name a few. Rauschkolb and Jim Richard offered dinners at their restaurants, Bud & Alley’s and Trebeaché, respectively, to higher-level donors.
Don’t forget dinner!
The smell of food wafting around the giant tent on Seaside’s Lyceum Lawn quickly reminded attendees of the 30-plus vendors waiting to dish up everything from Restaurant Paradis’s red snapper, cobia and grouper ceviche over a fried plantain chip; to Seagar’s New York strip loin with mushroom and madeira jus. amici 30A Italian Kitchen had both dinner and dessert covered, with warm Italian greens, Amy’s Meatballs, and chocolate chip and salted caramel popcorn cannoli.
Booth No. 1 held an extra-special exhibition when – for the first time – Seaside Neighborhood School students were on hand to present the ultimate in farm-to-table cuisine.
“We have made some dips with ingredients from our school garden and we’re here serving up some dip!” explained eighth-grader Emma Salinas. “This is our cold yogurt and cheese dip,” she said, gesturing to the tray in front of her.
“It’s Emeril’s recipe,” added classmate Knoxye Grinstead, as she stood next to sixth-grader Kingston Mixson and a platter of spinach dip with pita chips. “All the recipes are from Emeril’s cookbook for kids.”
Special to 30aFoodandWine.com courtesy of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin
Emeril’s Coastal Italian Restaurant Opens in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin Town Center Late Spring 2017
Chef Emeril Lagasse’s new restaurant to offer a combination of modern Italian cuisines with local fresh Gulf seafood.
Miramar Beach, Fla. (Mar. 30, 2017) – When legendary chef Emeril Lagasse decides to open a new restaurant, it’s a momentous occasion and people sit up and take notice. The award-winning restauranteur, cookbook author and television star has announced the opening of his newest restaurant, Emeril’s Coastal Italian, which opens in Grand Boulevard late Spring 2017. Lagasse’s newest restaurant joins the collection of premium restaurants based in the popular Town Center, located in the prestigious beach communities of South Walton, along the Gulf Coast of Northwest Florida.
“Grand Boulevard is a unique location and we can’t wait to be part of the many offerings and businesses here. I’ve had a long appreciation and love for this part of Florida. We are thrilled to partner with the Howard Group and become more involved with the local community,” said Lagasse.
Chef Emeril is hands-on with his restaurants and personally created the new restaurant concept. He and his restaurant team have written, tested and developed the menu and recipes, including the research of local purveyors and experimenting with local ingredients.
Emeril’s Coastal Italian combines the rich and diverse tradition of Italian cuisine with the bountiful variety of nearby fresh Gulf seafood and local ingredients.
“I plan to put my own spin or interpretation on many traditional dishes but also explore some unique offerings that highlight the amazing local ingredients that we have at our fingertips here. You can expect to find a wide array of dishes on this menu that expand beyond your traditional Italian restaurant.” said Lagasse.
Opening a restaurant in Miramar beach has been of interest to the Lagasse’s for some time. Chef Emeril is an avid fisherman and has been fishing in the gulf waters for years. He and his wife Alden Lagasse are active members of the community and call the Gulf Coast their home base.
“Part of the appeal of opening in Miramar Beach and at Grand Boulevard is the proximity to my home and the ability for my whole family to be involved. My children have grown up in our restaurants and we are really looking forward to having this property so close, it’s practically in our backyard,” said Lagasse.
Lovelace Interiors have been selected as the Interior Design Firm in collaboration with Lovelace design associate, Alden Lagasse. Susan Lovelace, ASID, NCIDQ certified and has owned the esteemed Interior Design Firm in Miramar Beach since 1992. The design concept is an earthy mix of textures that create a coastal and casual feeling, with an elegant touch. Susan and Alden describe it as a collaboration between cuisine and design elements that enhance the experience of dining. They are striving to make Emeril’s Coastal Italian something that is elevated beyond the ordinary and a complimentary fit to the many superb establishments located at the Town Center.
Keith Howard, President and CEO of Howard Group commented, “I admire the fact that Emeril and his family have been much appreciated and recognized local patrons of the Town Center for many years. Rarely, if ever, do we as developers have the opportunity to work alongside such a world-renowned chef who is also the owner and operator of this newly created Coastal Italian concept. We welcome Emeril and his family to our ever-growing Grand Boulevard Town Center, joining our many other premier dining, shopping and entertainment venues.”
Grand Boulevard is centrally located in the popular and affluent vacation community of South Walton, in Northwest Florida. With 13 restaurants and eateries located in the Town Center, Grand Boulevard attracts a large number of the permanent population as well as second home owners and the area’s many visitors who enjoy the shopping, dining, hotels and entertainment offered within the Town Center.
Emeril’s Coastal Italian restaurant is located at 435 Grand Boulevard, Suite 104, next door to the Town Center cinema.
About Grand Boulevard
Grand Boulevard is the shop, dine, play and stay Town Center located on Northwest Florida’s Beaches. Based on the prominent mixed-use architectural model, Grand Boulevard offers a dynamic lifestyle experience with convenient access to a multitude of exclusive shopping and dining options, entertainment, professional services, corporate offices and lodging. Grand Boulevard is a Howard Group and Merchants Retail Partners property. For more information, please call (850) 837-3099 or visit www.grandboulevard.com.
About Emeril Lagasse
Chef Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 13 restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando and Bethlehem, PA. 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.” Lagasse has appeared as a guest judge in four seasons of Bravo’s hit food series, “Top Chef,” was named a co-host for the tenth season of the “Rachael Ray Show,” and in January 2016, he entered his fourth season of “Emeril’s Florida” on the Cooking Channel. In September 2016, Amazon launched an original series featuring Lagasse called “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse.” Lagasse is the best-selling author of 19 cookbooks, the latest, Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen, was released in October 2015. In 2002, Emeril 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 donated more than $7 million to community organizations in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. Please visit emerilsrestaurants.com for more info.
For Grand Boulevard
Stacey Brady, Director of Marketing and Communications Grand Boulevard at Sandestin
850.837.3099 ext. 203
Emeril Lagasse headlines Taste of the Race culinary event on 30A
Food Network star announces Grand Boulevard restaurant will be “coastal Italian”
By Michelle Farnham
March 9th, 2017
Carb-loading before a big race is a ritual for many seasoned runners. At the Taste of the Race event – the precursor to the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K Run – athletes get to “pregame” with the likes of world-famous chef Emeril Lagasse and the top culinary players in the South Walton food scene.
The Friday night food event sold out with over 750 tickets issued, as did the race, with proceeds benefiting the Seaside School Foundation, the organization which helps fund Seaside Neighborhood School.
As residents of the area, Chef Lagasse and his wife Alden – who is on the board – have two children currently attending Seaside. It’s that drive as a father and neighbor that inspires the famous chef to lend his time and talents to the cause.
“As a resident of the community, I just want to see things evolve at Seaside,” Lagasse said. “It’s amazing for the community. I mean, I wish I could come to school here!”
More than dine-and-dash
Alicia Butler, executive director of the Seaside School Foundation, said money raised over the entire race weekend goes to supplement state funding, and is used for technology, music, arts and the gardening program.
With the help of the Lagasses, school executives, Seaside founder Robert Davis, and local chefs, the pre-race meal has evolved over the years from a simple pasta dinner to one of the great food and beverage events on the coast.
“There’s so much love here it’s unbelievable, and it gives people a taste of the panhandle,” Lagasse pointed out. “You know what? We have so much talent here, we have so much great food and great chefs and restaurants, but nobody knows about them. To be able to tie that in with the school – to make the community even better – makes me really happy.”
Butler credited the work of many for the event’s success.
“It’s really become a community event,” Butler said. “Everybody volunteers their time and services, and staff members of all these organizations volunteer, too. It’s just amazing how the community comes together for this event.”
A lucky few attended a VIP reception with event co-chairs Lagasse, Chef Jim Shirley, and Chef Jim Richard. Foodies will know Shirley from his restaurants, including The Great Southern Café, 45 Central, The Meltdown on 30A, The Baytowne Melt, and The Bay, while Richard has brought local diners Stinky’s Fish Camp and Trebeaché.
Shirley and chefs Michael Mix (The Bay) and Tim Plowick (The Great Southern Café) served up a twist on Ya Ya Pizza and Faux Ya Ya, respectively.
“When it comes to the Seaside school, “I’m all in,” Shirley said. “I’m on the school board and it’s a group I cherish. As a merchant of Seaside, I really love having the kids here.”
Alongside Trebeaché Chef David Cunningham, Richard was dishing out a Louisiana Crawfish and Tasso Ragout with Potato Gratin. Like Lagasse, he has two kids in the Seaside schools, and couldn’t be more proud of the way the charter has evolved.
“I’ve lived in a lot of places and it really is unparalleled,” he said of the school. “Supporting this school, supporting the community is really important for all of our businesses, for everyone who lives here. You can’t say enough about it.”
Richard had easily the youngest sous chef on his line, in Seaside Neighborhood School sixth-grader George Bailey. Bailey said his duties for the evening included “a little bit of cooking, but a lot of helping out, serving, giving food to people and smiling.”
Bailey admitted cooking is just a hobby for him; he has his sights set on becoming a stock broker, a career that will be bolstered by his love of math and a challenging curriculum at Seaside.
“It’s the most wonderful school; it pushes you. It has a great environment and the teachers are amazing,” Bailey said of SNS.
The dish on the dishes
There were eats-a-plenty, with 21 chefs coming together to present everything from Mullet Cake with Remoulade Sauce (Grayton Seafood Co.), to the Gulf Seafood Cioppino with Cheese Toast (Fish Out of Water), to bite-sized desserts from Sweet Henrietta’s. Drinks were poured from Grayton Beer Company, Buffalo Trace and The Craft Bar.
Atlanta resident Joanie Fagan and her four girlfriends make a special trip to Seagrove every year for a girls’ weekend, centered around the Taste of the Race event.
“We love the food, and it’s even better this year,” Fagan said.
Chef Gregg Smith brought a Southern Slider from 30A newcomer Surfing Deer. The dish featured hot honey fried chicken, peach marmalade, a ginger pickle and a house-made buttermilk biscuit.
Like many under the tent on the Lyceum Lawn, Smith and Surfing Deer owners George and Ann Hartley have a vested interested in the school.
“The Hartleys have been a part of this community for many, many years. Their children went to this school, and my 24-year-old daughter went to this school in 6, 7 and 8th grade,” Smith said.
Kevin Korman, the culinary mastermind behind Roselie Dining & Seafood Bar, kept diners on their toes with his offering.
“This is a little play on shrimp and grits, but it’s reversed,” he explained. “It’s a grit fritter, and on the bottom is charred shrimp in a tomato sofrito, and then we did a sweet and spicy tomato and pepper jam.”
New restaurant on the horizon
The folks from Emeril’s Homebase have been pretty tight-lipped about the culinary master’s next venture at Grand Boulevard – his 14th eatery.
Lagasse did let it slip that his new restaurant is “going to be Italian – very coastal – not just spaghetti and meatballs … It’s going to be damn good.”
Located next to the Carmike Boulevard 10, the restaurant will feature “food graffiti” courtesy of a New Orleans mural artist.
Many of the local chefs were excited to have a name as big as Emeril Lagasse shining the spotlight on their burgeoning culinary mecca.
“It really puts us on the map as a restaurant destination,” Richard said. “You can look at our tourist development numbers, and restaurants are the number two reason people come here. For those of us who have been in the business a long time and owned restaurants, we know that he’ll raise the bar because everyone’s going to have to step up a little bit. That’s only going to make our restaurant scene better, by him being here.”
Korman thought it was no coincidence Lagasse chose South Walton for his next venture: it’s the next big thing.
“That exactly why we decided to open a restaurant here,” he said of Roselie, that opened at Inlet Beach in June of 2016. “We thought about a lot of other locations … but ultimately we decided here for that reason: it’s about to pop.”
Perhaps Shirley said it best. “Emeril’s lived here for a while and we enjoy that, and now he’s going to do his thing, that’s great. It’s on!”
To close out the evening, Lagasse joined the band Masterpiece on stage, dancing with the crowd and even saddling up behind the drum set for a song.