he kick-it-up king of Cajun cooking turns us all into spice girls and boys Just over 10 years ago Emeril Lagasse opened his first restaurant, Emeril's, in New Orleans. Now he has six acclaimed restaurants, two TV shows on the Food Network, plus appearances on Good Morning America as a food correspondent. And that's not all his five previous cookbooks have sold more than two million copies, and his most popular, Emeril's TV Dinners, has sold 600,000 copies alone.

This fall, the effervescent Emeril kicks it up a notch, piling even more goodies onto a full plate. He plays himself in the new sitcom, Emeril, which recently debuted on NBC, and his latest cookbook, Prime Time Emeril, is just out with more great examples of Emeril's spicy Cajun style.

Although he admits to being exhausted by his hectic schedule, Emeril's enthusiasm for his new ventures isn't flagging. He brings his usual pep to his first true acting role, playing a popular television chef surrounded by a crew of opinionated women on Emeril. The show was created by Linda Bloodworth and her husband Harry Thomason, the talented duo behind Designing Women and Evening Shade.

Airing on Tuesday nights, the program is one of only two new comedies added to NBC's prime time fall schedule. Sitcom newcomer Emeril is joined by an experienced cast that includes Robert Urich (Spencer: For Hire) as his agent; Tricia O'Kelley (Everybody Loves Raymond) as a meddlesome network exec; and Mary Page (Life Goes On) as the chef's long-suffering wife. Viewers more interested in food than fun can log on to an NBC Web site (www.nbcmv.com) to get recipes for dishes that are prepared on each episode.

The charismatic Emeril has been delighting audiences for years with his unrestrained approach to the joy of cooking on two Food Network shows, The Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live. Even the dullest cooking chores can be delightful to watch when Bam! Emeril adds his personal touch.

It's no wonder that this chef who has as much pizzazz in his personality as he puts in his food has created a fabulous new cookbook. In Prime Time Emeril: More TV Dinners from America's Favorite Chef, Emeril does what he likes to do best he gets you involved and excited about food and cooking. His bubbling enthusiasm for elevating the simplest ingredients and turning them into tasty, well-seasoned dishes is evident in every recipe from the basics, like homemade stocks (which you gotta have ) to his great gumbos and chowders, his winning ways with fish, seafood, pork, poultry and Macho Meat to a divine array of deeply satisfying desserts.

And it wouldn't be Emeril food without those unique Emerilisms, his special twists on classic preparations. Just imagine the ohs and ahs you'll get when you serve up an Emerilism such as Caramelized Onion and Foie Gras Bread Pudding, Barbecued Oysters with Rosemary Biscuits or Kicked-Up Calamari with Creole Olive Salad. The TV dinners most of us remember were never like this!

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