Viva Fall River

‘Hometown hero’ Emeril Lagasse makes surprise stops in Fall River. Here’s why he was here.

Apr 26, 2024 | Eat & Drink Blog, Press

Fall River Native and celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse, returned to the Riv and visited some local eateries!

By: Ashley Schuler, The Herald News, April 22, 2024

FALL RIVER — It was just a typical Sunday for a few local eateries, then BAM! In walks one of Fall River’s most famous former residents, celebrity chef and James Beard winner Emeril Lagasse.

“We were very loud on Sunday and it switched to murmurs really quickly,” said Andrew Ferreira, co-owner of Europa Pastries and Coffee Shop, which received a surprise visit from Lagasse amid their morning rush.

The city native was in town doing research for his first Portuguese restaurant he plans to open in New Orleans late this summer. Research included a trip back to his roots for a culinary tour of popular Portuguese spots in the Providence, Fall River and New Bedford areas.

He and his Emeril Group team, which manages his 10 restaurants, flew in from New Orleans on Saturday, starting their tour at O Dinis in East Providence.

During his stop at O Dinis, Lagasse spoke to restaurant owner Natalia Paiva-Neves about growing up in Fall River and cooking Portuguese dishes with his mother, Miss Hilda.

And on Sunday his entourage made their rounds in the Spindle City, which included at least two stops on Columbia Street.

“I froze when I finally registered that it was really him. I said ‘This is not real, is it?'” said Ferreira, who said he did a double take upon catching Lagasse’s reflection in the mirror as he went about his daily routine of preparing coffee.

A sweet start at Europa Pastries

While there, Ferreira said Lagasse educated his colleagues on Portuguese traditions and culture of the Fall River area. Ferreira, his sister Erica Couto and her husband, Kevin, then chatted with him about the pastries their bakery is most known for.

So it’s no surprise Lagasse’s Europa order included their award-winning pastel de nata, or Portuguese custard cup.

According to Ferreira, Lagasse wasn’t at Europa very long, taking his treats to go, but he made a lasting impression on staff and customers all the same.

“It was brief, but it was enough to be star-struck and in awe that he was here,” said Ferreira, who grew up watching Lagasse’s TV show “Emeril Live!” every day and emulating the city-born chef.

“He was super nice. Anyone that came up to him he would speak to,” Ferreira said. “He’s definitely considered a hometown hero for a lot of those people.”

Taste of Portugal at Sagres

A bit further up the cobblestoned sidewalks of Columbia Street, Lagasse and his crew dined that same day at Sagres Restaurant, well-known for its upscale, authentic Portuguese cuisine.

Victor DaSilva and his brother Manuel Ferreira, co-owners of the decades-old city staple, got a heads up about a week ago about Lagasse’s visit.