Catch Emeril live! Celebrity chef will dish at Arlington Park this weekend

  • Chef Emeril Lagasse makes a Gin Cucumber Cooler for the crowd at Fork, Cork & Style at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Kentucky earlier this month.

    Chef Emeril Lagasse makes a Gin Cucumber Cooler for the crowd at Fork, Cork & Style at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Kentucky earlier this month. Courtesy of Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs Racetrack

Published: 9/29/20 12:01 AM

He's one of the country's most recognizable faces, and he's coming to Arlington Park this weekend.

Not Lee DeWyze that was last week. I'm talking about celebrity chef extraordinaire Emeril Lagasse who will ride into town Saturday to perform cooking demonstrations during a tailgate-themed event called Cork, Fork & Style.

Lagasse is no stranger to the Chicago area. A decade ago he taped his star-making "Emeril Live" show in Chicago and he performed on the main stage at Taste of Chicago, warming things up, so to speak, for mega rock bands.

His appearance this weekend will no doubt be more low-key, yet no less entertaining as New Orleans' favorite son by way of Boston kicks things up for the hungry crowd.

Emeril took a break from his busy tour to talk football and food.

What team would we find you watching on a Sunday afternoon? That's an easy one. Saints all the way, baby!

At home, what are you likely to munch on at game time? Zapp's potato chips.

What do you consider to be must-have tailgate equipment? My grill is my go-to tool for tailgating. Gas is usually the easiest, but sometimes you want smoky flavors of charcoal. Sometimes I like to soak some wood chips to throw on the hot coals which really kicks up the flavor.

What tips do you have for people who want to tailgate simply yet still want to provide more than beer and sausages? There's nothing better than gathering with friends before the game. The best path to success is to plan everything out. I always bring out the grill for simple but great food. Ribs or wings are always an easy option and a definite crowd pleaser.

What's your favorite fall ingredient? How do you like to use it? I don't have one favorite per se. There's so much great produce in the fall, so it's more about what's fresh and available locally. I love eggplant, it's one of the few jewels of summer that hangs around until early fall. I also love butternut squash and pumpkin - winter squash pairs so well with pasta. Whether it's a sauce, or a filling for ravioli, the possibilities are many. I just created a wonderful butternut squash and apple lasagna for a cookbook I'm working on and it was outrageously (surprisingly) delicious.

Between Top Chef and other cooking shows, Chicago chefs sure have been making their mark. What's your take on Chicago's food scene? Any places you want to visit while you're in town? I love visiting Chicago. It has a great food scene and so, so many incredible places to eat at. The options are endless - Frontera Grill, Tru, Charlie Trotter's, Blackbird, The Purple Pig, Spiaggia, and Gibson's and that's just to name a few! I won't be in town long enough to visit all the places I want to.

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Cork, Fork & Style

Daylong celebration of fall food, wine, music and tailgating with samplings and cooking demonstrations from Emeril Lagasse and other top chefs.

11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2

Arlington Racecourse, 2200 W. Euclid Road, Arlington Heights.

$35 gets you in for the bands, demos and food; a $50 ticket gets you all that plus access to a three-hour grand tasting and chance to sample more than 150 wines.