An article in today's Food section, which was printed in advance, contains an incorrect name for an Indian street food being prepared at the Folklife Festival this weekend. Chef Suvir Saran will demonstrate how to make behl puri, not devi puri. Devi is the name of his restaurant in New York.
Tastes From the Melting Pot
Chefs from all over the country are joining local cooking celebrities at Food Culture USA, one of the themes of this year's Folklife Festival on the Mall. They are demonstrating how to make dishes as varied as pizza and the Indian street food, devi puri.
"The most common characteristic of American food is change," says Joan Nathan, cookbook author and co-curator of the Smithsonian program. "Now, people look to chefs not only for their own traditions, but also to the traditions of the immigrant chefs who are working for them. Our melting pot is constantly evolving."
Here are some of the names and faces in the festival lineup:
EMERIL LAGASSE In many ways, Emeril Lagasse is the rock star of the food world. He's head of a business empire that encompasses seasonings, sauces, wine, cookware, chef's clothing and gourmet sausages, as well as nine restaurants, numerous cookbooks and, most importantly, his highly rated cooking show on the Food Network.
Known for his catchphrases "Bam!" and "Kick it up a notch," he'll undoubtedly be repeating those tomorrow at the Folklife Festival when he demonstrates hot crab dip, watermelon daiquiris, Asian broccoli salad, and shrimp, okra and tomato gumbo.
A native of Massachusetts, Lagasse turned down a prestigious music scholarship to attend culinary school. He worked at restaurants in several cities, but it was his seven years as executive chef of the famous Commander's Palace in New Orleans that proved the stepping-stone to fame.
Lagasse's newest project is fatherhood and a third kids' cookbook. He and his wife have a 2-year-old son (Emeril Jr., or E.J.) and a 6-month-old daughter (Meril -- Emeril without the e), as well as two grown daughters from his first marriage. The new cookbook, "There's a Chef in My World!" will feature international recipes for children. Lagasse says his son already stands next to him in the kitchen "helping" him cook.
He didn't say whether E.J. also helps by saying, "Bam!"
He will appear at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Beyond the Melting Pot kitchen, followed by a book signing.
PAUL PRUDHOMME Legendary chef Paul Prudhomme has been serving up native Louisiana cuisine since 1979, but he's still got new tricks up his sleeve for diners at his K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Prudhomme, who will turn 65 next month, spends a good portion of his time in recipe research and development, in addition to appearing at food trade shows on behalf of his ever-expanding line of Magic Seasoning Blends. According to his company's chief executive, Shawn McBride, he treats the R&D crew like one big family.
On the road and at his restaurant, the chef enjoys talking with newcomers to the field. "Talking to someone who's just getting started is what I really like," he says. "I tell them cooking's a very hard job -- they've got to love it. If you're young, you should cook three to five years professionally to know what you're getting into." Prudhomme sees a growing need for R&D chefs for corporations and manufacturing and thinks culinary schools will soon add more of that kind of training and education to their curricula.