'Top Chef: Texas' Emeril Lagasse 'would love to do' more

zap-emerils-table-emeril-la.jpg Emeril Lagasse says that if "Top Chef" wants him back for another season, he's there ... though his first season hasn't started running yet.

The culinary star has finished taping "Top Chef: Texas," which will mark the ninth round of the Bravo competition when it debuts this fall. Having done episodes in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio with host Padma Lakshmi and fellow judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons already has Lagasse eager for more.

"It was a great experience for me," the friendly, sincere Lagasse tells Zap2it. "I had been a guest on 'Top Chef' before, for one or two shows, and it intrigued me so much that I got caught up in it. It's so real, and that's what I like about the show. It really should be a dynamite season.

"Padma and Tom have been friends for a long time," Lagasse adds, "and when they called and we talked, they said, 'We're getting ready to start our ninth season.' And I had no idea! I went, 'Ninth season? You've gotta be kidding me.'

"But it's been on that long for a reason. The production company is top-notch, I was very impressed with all of them, and I hope it continues. I would love to do another season with them. They're a group of really passionate professionals:"

Only now can Lagasse take a breath for the first time "since January," he maintains, since he's also been at work on a new weekday series for Hallmark Channel: "Emeril's Table," premiering Monday, Sept. 26. Each episode finds him preparing a specially themed meal for five guests, and it's ironic the show will debut the same day as another much-touted food program, ABC's "The Chew."

"I was in conversation with those folks," Lagasse reports, "and I just couldn't make the commitment to what they were asking for in the beginning. I think they've got a great panel, and I wish them luck. I don't really have a read on what the show continually is going to be.

"I know a couple of the producers who are going over there and are very experienced," Lagasse adds, "so I'm sure they'll be in good hands. Doing that sort of show, when you're talking about up to 42 weeks a year, is a lot of time ... and a lot of conversation. But hey, I wish them the best."
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