Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse apparently is experiencing heartburn from what he deemed “Obama nonsense” that is adversely affecting the restaurant business.
Foodies are well familiar with Emeril (particularly his “Bam!” exhortation) from his cooking shows on the Food Network and as a judge on Top Chef. He is currently making the rounds promoting his new TNT cooking reality show On the Menu.
Although Lagasse did not provide specifics over what he is simmering about, presumably the TV chef may have been alluding to the intrusive regulations (including Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) as well as taxation imposed on businesses by the Obama administration.
In an interview with The Week, Lagasse claimed that restaurants generally run by small businessmen and women are on a knife edge when it comes to remaining profitable, in part because of the increased cost of food and fuel in areas where he (as well as other entrepreneurs) operates restaurants.
I have nowhere to go, really — other than broke. It’s becoming a very challenging industry to become a very successful average restaurateur. I can’t charge $300 a person in my restaurant or I would not be in business. Am I using any different ingredients? Not really. Am I using any caliber of service staff? I don’t think so. I think our service is as good or better than most places. And then you add all the Obama nonsense to what it’s become in the last several years. I don’t have anything against Mr. Obama. I’m just saying the way that, you know… the government should stay out of things. […] Pretty soon, they’re going to wipe a lot of the middle restaurateurs and restaurant cooks. […] If it continues, then watch: you’re going to have high-end, and you’re going to have fast food, and you’re going to have chain restaurants.”
Emeril admitted that he doesn’t have a solution for America’s ongoing and not appetizing economic woes, and if he did, “I could run for president… All I can tell you is that the balance of the economic cycle is out of whack.”
The celebrity chef owns 14 restaurants across the country but no one will probably need to hold a bake sale for him. In 2008 Martha Stewart Living bought the rights to the Emeril Lagassse cookbooks, TV shows, and kitchen merchandise for an estimated $50 million or more.
Following Lagasse’s comments to The Week, the New Orleans headquarters of his restaurant group issued the following statement to the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
The restaurant industry is one of most notoriously challenging industries and Chef was speaking to how the challenges of today’s economy impact it nation-wide. Diners are more sophisticated and informed now than ever before and making more careful choices on how they spend their dollars in restaurants. As operating costs, especially food, continue to rise, it is an ongoing challenge for any restaurateur to maintain the quality of food, service and experience and not have their customers bear that burden.”
None of Emeril’s three New Orleans restaurants are in danger of closing their doors according to the Times-Picayune.
In a clarification about his reference to “Obama nonsense,” Emeril Lagasse himself told The Wall Street Journal that “I don’t have a political side. [Obama] has a very tough job doing what he’s doing and managing what he’s doing under what’s happening in the world. But at the same time, I think that we as a nation, we as people, we have our own problems. And I think that we need to be really looking at that as a nation. And what’s really moving things forward.”
[image credit: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater]