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.
Chef Bernard Carmouche began his culinary career by default. He was a high school student looking for a job so he could fulfill the dream of buying a car. Instead he found a career that’s been more like a calling. In 1984, Carmouche applied for a job at Commander’s Palace under the direction of then executive chef Emeril Lagasse. Shortly after he began, Lagasse recognized his dedication and began to teach him how to cook. Carmouche remained at Commander’s Palace for eight years. When the Brennan’s opened Palace Café he was made sous chef and held that position for two years until he was persuaded by Chef Emeril Lagasse to become a part of the team at Emeril’s Restaurant. During Carmouche’s six year tenure at Emeril’s he rose to the position of Chef de Cuisine and served an internship under internationally acclaimed French chef Roger Verge at his Moulin de Mougin restaurant. Upon the opening of Emeril’s Orlando in 1999 he assumed the position of Chef de Cuisine. In 2003, he was promoted to Assistant Director of Culinary Operations for Emeril’s Homebase, the company’s headquarters. Now as Culinary Director, he oversees the kitchen teams and all culinary operations of the company’s two Florida restaurants including Emeril’s Orlando at Universal's CityWalk® and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort® at Universal Orlando Resort®.
A native Floridian, Lee Kaleel has spent his entire professional career dreaming of running a restaurant. He began this quest in 1995 at the place where dreams come true – the California Grill at the Walt Disney World Resort®. As part of California Grill’s opening team, Lee spent his first eight years developing his passion for superior guest service, delicious food and exquisite wine.
In 2003, Kaleel joined Darden Restaurants to help design and launch Seasons 52. He assisted with the development of the concept until March 2008 when he helped open the independent gastro pub, Ravenous Pig.
In October 2011, Lee was recruited by Emeril Lagasse to lead the operations of his Asian-Polynesian restaurant Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (located at the Loews Royal Pacific® at Universal Studios Orlando®) as general manager.