Chef Emeril Lagasse received his first culinary experience from his mother, Hilda, when he was a boy growing up in the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts. As a teenager, he worked at a Portuguese bakery where he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking. Upon high school graduation, Lagasse was offered a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, but decided to pursue a career as a professional chef.
Milan, or Miki, Nikolic is the General Manager of Chef Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in uptown Charlotte, N.C., e2 emeril’s eatery and e2GO, a quick-service breakfast and lunch outpost. With more than two decades of hospitality experience, Nikolic joined the Emeril’s family of restaurants in 2011, helping to open e2. Nikolic served as Bar Manager at e2, transforming Charlotte’s cocktail scene by introducing an abundance of local, fresh ingredients and hand-crafted cocktails. Nikolic was promoted to General Manger of e2 in August 2013.
Before moving to Charlotte, Nikolic managed the bar at Chef Mario Batali’s Carnevino in the Venetian l Palazzo Las Vegas for six years. He also has experience working in the dining rooms at B and B Ristorante in Las Vegas and Guy Savoy in Caesar’s Palace. Originally from Yugoslavia, Nikolic earned a degree in Culinary Arts from the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism in Belgrade and attended the Institute of Hotel Management, Food and Beverage Management. In 2013, Nikolic was named “Best Mixologist” in Charlotte magazine’s Best of the Best Awards.
Chef de Cuisine
Chef Brian Mottola has spent 15-plus years cooking in award-winning restaurants such as Carpe Diem in Charlotte, Boulevard in San Francisco and Emeril’s in New Orleans. In September 2012, he took the helm of e2 emeril’s eatery in Charlotte, N.C., as its chef de cuisine.
Mottola’s love for cooking and great cuisine was first shaped around his family’s dinner table. He grew up in Madison, N.J., watching his Italian-born mother prepare family meals, mostly classic Italian dishes such as hearty lasagna, pastas and soups. “I grew up in a dinner-table family,” Mottola says. “Any time of day, that’s where you could find us.”
After graduating from the prestigious culinary school Johnson and Wales in 1997, Mottola began working as a line cook for renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse at his original restaurant in New Orleans’ Warehouse District. In 1999, Mottola moved to Las Vegas to help open Chef Emeril’s Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venetian Casino and Resort, where he served as the butcher and saucier. Next, he worked under Chef Nancy Oaks at her prestigious San Francisco restaurant, Boulevard.
Mottola eventually moved back to New Jersey to work as a sous chef at Café Matisse, and he later opened his own restaurant, Pop’s, in honor of his grandfather. He owned and operated Pop’s, serving Cajun, Creole and barbecue-style cuisine, until 2008 when he moved to Charlotte, N.C. Mottola first worked as the sous chef at Carpe Diem under Chef Paul Ketterhagen, before rejoining Emeril’s team to open e2 emeril’s eatery in January 2012 and serving as sous chef.
Mottola is hands-on in the kitchen, using only the best-quality local and regional ingredients to drive his seasonal menu and nightly specials. “We’ll regularly change the menu based on available local ingredients that are in season,” Mottola says. “I’m excited to continue Chef Emeril’s tradition of New Orleans cuisine featuring the great products available here in North Carolina.”