Spicy, exotic Creole and Cajun recipes were part of the draw of this Food Network show hosted by Emeril Lagasse. Another part was the enthusiastic and energetic chef himself as he ran the fast-paced show. Born near Boston to a French Canadian father and Portuguese mother, Lagasse brought his working-class background and unusual heritage to the series. It debuted in 1995 and ran on and off for 12 years. In 1996, Time named "The Essence of Emeril" as one of the best 10 cooking shows on television [source: Bio -- Emeril].
Emeril's recipes often defied categorization. Some were elegant, like surf-and-turf or sweet and savory crepes. Others were suitable for more casual occasions, including summer entertaining and football parties. Pure comfort foods made appearances, as well, when Lagasse presented his "kicked-up" meatloaf, 5-bean chili and beef stew – often with his trademark exclamation "Bam!" whenever he added seasoning.