I think all kids need snacks. Mine are fruit machines. I give them things like apple slices, berries and melon. Do I let them eat ice cream? Absolutely. But not every day.
I launched The Emeril Lagasse Foundation to provide culinary training, and developmental and educational programs to children in the cities where my restaurants operate. I think everyone has a responsibility to give back to the community if they can, and to help future generations learn new skills.
I was on the board of Andre Agassi's foundation, and seeing the way it operated blew my mind. In 2002, I told my wife, I want to start a foundation to give back, I want it to be for kids in hard circumstances, and I want it to be culinary-driven, because that's who I am.
I wouldn't ask any of my employees to do anything I wouldn't do. And I work as hard, if not harder than the rest of the staff, to set an example. I also believe in giving my employees a lot of room to be creative and to express themselves.
Those other 10 o'clock shows that come on, all you get from them is headaches and nightmares when you go to bed! At least we give you food, know what I mean?
When I first decided to open a restaurant, I was turned down by several banks. It was the late 80's and many restaurants were failing. I refused to give up because I knew I had a good concept.
I'm pretty actively involved with the military because I think they're incredible human beings. If I can give back to them for what they're doing for us, it's a good thing. And I think to have happy soldiers, you need to feed them well.
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