Emeril Lagasse says he never really thought work would bring him to the coast.
"I never dreamed of doing a restaurant on the Gulf Coast, because I come here to relax. I don't come here to work," says Lagasse.
But, after finding the perfect partnership with Island View Casino and seeing the potential to help rebuild the place he and his wife love so much, Emeril Lagasse decided he had to get things cooking here on the coast.
Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House features a separate dining room for private parties, a climate-controlled wine cellar showcasing 4,000 wines and a outdoor deck for dining with a coastal view.
"Our restaurants are not cookie cutters and what I mean is they are not stamps. Each one of our restaurants has its own personality, depending on where we are. Here, it's sort of Coastal Creole," says Lagasse.
The Coastal Creole flavor includes a menu of classics like New Orleans barbecued shrimp, new additions like the Crispy Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Cake and Lagasse's favorite Banana Cream Pie.
"To have an Emeril Lagasse open a restaurant here on the Gulf Coast lets everybody know we're back in business and we're just extremely excited about it," says Island View co-owner Rick Carter.
"This means a lot for my family. This means a lot for my wife and certainly means a lot for me to be able to give something back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast which we love so much," says Lagasse.
And Lagasse says he would like to clear up a little rumor that's been going around in the excitement of his restaurant opening up.
"There's a sort of rumor out there that the restaurant is sold out for three months already and that's just not true. We have plenty of reservations out there for you, next week, the week after, so give us a call and give us a chance. We'd love to have you and take care of you."
All proceeds from Thursday night's event will benefit the Lynn Meadow's Discovery Center. Emeril and his wife Alden expect to raise about $150,000 for the center through Emeril's foundation and matched contributions.
The restaurant will officially open to the public Friday night at 6.
By the way, if you were a fan of Bay City Grill in Bay St. Louis, you may be interested to know that Chef Steve D'Angelo is now part of Emeril's Gulfport staff. D'Angelo, who trained under Emeril before opening his own restaurant, is serving as the Chef De Cuisine at Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House.