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.
Jeff Wakem hails from Providence, RI, and a family with deep ties to food and hospitality. Meals and holiday celebrations centered around the family table - these daily rituals, coupled with his first job as a pizza maker at a small family-owned Italian restaurant, would inspire his life long love of people and food.
While attending Johnson & Wales University, Chef Emeril's alma mater, Wakem explored the culinary arts and earned an associates degree, before pursuing a bachelors in Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management.
Following college, Wakem made Orlando his home and he has been influential in the burgeoning restaurant scene here over the past 15 years.
In 2004, Wakem worked with Darden to help launch their newest restaurant Seasons 52. He assisted with the development of the concept until March 2010, when he was recruited by Emeril Lagasse to lead the operations of his Asian-Polynesian restaurant Emeril's Tchoup Chop at Loews Royal Pacific Resort as general manager.
Today he welcomes guests to the Emeril's family at Chef Emeril's new restaurant in Uptown Charlotte, as he shares Lagasse's signature warm style of hospitality and ensures diners get the most out of their dining experience at e2 emeril's eatery.