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Big Fish
With his newest venture, Emeril’s Fish House at Sands Bethlehem, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse casts a wider net in the Greater Philadelphia Area

by Leigh Stuart

“My love is the sea,” says Emeril Lagasse, a New England native who has been turning the culinary world on its ear for more than 25 years. “I grew up on the ocean. I live on the ocean right now; I’m surrounded by water in New Orleans, I’m surrounded where I live in Florida. I’m a fisherman, I’m really connected [to] and I love fish.”

This love inspired Chef Lagasse’s newest concept, which he has exported to southeastern PA. When Chef Lagasse asks, “Where in the Lehigh Valley can you go and get really outstanding seafood?” he already knows the answer: Emeril’s Fish House, located within Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, the casino and entertainment destination in Bethlehem approximately a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia.

This new dining destination opened April 18, replacing Emeril’s Italian Table, which formerly occupied the space. The Bethlehem location will echo the flavors of his Fish House location in Las Vegas, a city where Emeril has had a presence for more than 20 years.

“We’ll have some notes of New Orleans, but also it’s all about freshness,” Chef Lagasse says. “It’s all about the product. It’s really keeping it simple. It’s about the freshness, it’s about being pristine and being delicious, so that’s what we’re doing.”

The menu reflects the southern spice for which Lagasse has become known, with rich and savory dishes such as New Orleans barbecued shrimp, buttery miso-glazed sea scallops, and rich and satisfying oysters Bienville topped with bacon cream and parmesan.

“It’s about freshness—that’s the first thing we have,” says Victor Bock, executive chef/director of food and beverage at Sands Bethlehem. “We deal with several companies out of the Northeast. We also deal with a company out of Florida that gets great seafood that was caught yesterday [and] it’s on our doorstep today, and that’s what it’s about.

“We want to pride ourselves on [offering] nothing but fresh food.”

Emeril’s Fish House joins two other Lagasse restaurants at Sands Bethlehem—Emeril’s Chop House and Burgers and More by Emeril. These restaurants represent just a few of the jewels in the crown that is Chef Lagasse’s growing culinary empire, which spans the nation, from New Orleans to Las Vegas, and from Orlando to Pennsylvania’s southeast corner.

“I love cooking fish,” Lagasse says. “We thought it would be really cool to give Lehigh Valley and the people here—our customers—a great seafood experience, and that’s why we opened the Fish House.”

Photograph by Michael McNett Photography

Suburban Life Magazine