New York -- Emeril Lagasse -- host of Food Network's
hit, Emeril Live -- invited students from Park West High School's
culinary-arts program to his studio to help promote the network's largest marketing
campaign to date: "Emeril Kicks Up Your School Cafeteria."
In a sweepstakes that starts March 14 and runs through
April 3, parents of schoolchildren between the ages of 10 and 14 can enter for a chance to
have Lagasse take over the school cafeteria for a day.
The idea to run a promotion focused on children came
directly from Lagasse, according to Food senior vice president and general manager Judy
Girard. "His show draws a very significant kid audience," she said. "It
At last Wednesday's press conference, Lagasse posed
for photos with and took questions from the students from Manhattan's Park
West, as well as younger kids from a local elementary school.
Lagasse shared stories of learning to cook first with his
mother, Hilda, at the age of seven, and building his skills later while working for a
"I love cooking with my Mom, and she's still a
great cook," he said. "A week or so ago, she said, 'You know, Emeril, I
think you're starting to become a better chef than I am.'"
Lagasse encouraged the culinary-arts students to find a
mentor and start working in the trade as early as possible to find out whether they really
want to make food their livelihood.
"Hopefully, all of you will have a show on the Food
Network in a few years and kick it up a few notches," he told the students.
In addition to Food's nationwide contest, one local
school will also win the services of Lagasse for a day.
Time Warner CityCable, the ad-sales division of the local
Time Warner Cable system, and Time Warner's local news channel, New York 1 News, are
supporting the promotion. TWCC has already signed up local ad support from managed-care
provider Health Plus, Macy's, New York Cruise Line Inc.'s Circle Line, the New
York City Department of Health and General Motors Corp.'s GMC Trucks.
TWCC president Larry Fischer said he also hopes to enlist
local newspapers to print the contest's entry forms, which will be available on
NY1's Web site (www.ny1.com). "It's not inconceivable that a New
York City school will win both the national and local contests," he added.
NY1 will air Lagasse's appearance at the winning New
York school in May.
Food will produce an hour-long episode of Emeril Live featuring
the winning schools. The family that sent in the winning entry will also win a Yukon
sports-utility vehicle from GMC.
National advertising sponsors include GMC, ConAgra
Inc.'s Hebrew National, Nabisco Brands Co.'s Oreo and Reynolds Metals Co.'s
Reynolds Wrap. Food's parent, The E.W. Scripps Co., will air spots in local broadcast
markets, as well as providing newspaper inserts in major metropolitan markets.
Girard said other cable systems around the country would
also be encouraged to sign up local sponsors for the sweepstakes. Affiliates that support
the promotion locally will receive $500 savings bonds. Food will also make ad slicks and
customizable cross-channel spots available.
Lagasse has been central to other Food campaigns, including
a visit to firehouses last year and a Super Bowl promotion last month.
"Emeril helped to build the network from
scratch," Girard said, adding that Food recently hit the 45 million-subscriber mark.