When it comes to the topic of celebrity chefs, the name Emeril Lagasse is bound to come up -- and most likely sooner rather than later. Perhaps the most beloved and prolific kitchen wizard ever to grace the small screen, Lagasse inherited his love of cooking from his mother while growing up in Fall River, MA, and honed his talents in the kitchen with an extended stint in a Portuguese bakery as a teen. An accomplished drummer who was offered a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music after graduating from high school, Lagasse instead chose to pursue a career as a chef by enrolling in the prestigious Johnson and Wales University. Later, after traveling to France and perfecting the art of French cuisine, the worldly Lagasse returned stateside and worked in restaurants in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. While the experience in those cities was invaluable to his growth as a world-class chef, it was his seven years spent at the legendary Commander's Palace in New Orleans that truly propelled Lagasse's career to the next level. In the following years, he would become the chef-proprietor of numerous restaurants all across the United States. While anyone who tasted Lagasse's creative and flavorful dishes would eagerly spread the word to friends and loved ones, it was his association with The Food Network that transformed him into a national icon while simultaneously making the fledgling network a small-screen sensation for food aficionados everywhere. Lagasse's numerous cookbooks frequently flew off the shelves as quickly as they could be stocked, and in September 2002, the star chef founded the Emeril Lagasse Foundation -- an organization devoted to supporting programs that nurture developmental and educational opportunities for youth. Lagasse's colorful personality and ease before the camera have made him a regular fixture of television talk shows, with his own programs Emeril, The Essence of Emeril, and Emeril Live earning him multiple Emmy nominations and prompting countless aspiring chefs to test their proficiency in the kitchen.