The Emeril Lagasse Foundation

Project Info

Client The Emeril Lagasse Foundation
Skills Growth Strategy

Project Description

EMH has twice been engaged to assist in visioning a signature project for the organization, funneling the high-level thinking of the board and executive staff down to actionable items, informed by deep research and best practices.

Project Scope

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s mission is to inspire, mentor, and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive and creative individuals, and to make a lasting impact on their lives.

In 2011, ELF hired EMH to create a feasibility study for a culinary and agricultural endeavor called Emeril’s City Farm, which would be a signature project for Emeril Lagassse and his foundation.  After analyzing the operational, organizational, programmatic, and financial structures, it was determined that this program was not in the best interest of the foundation because it was outside the scope and functionality of the foundation, and did not represent an efficient means of delivering on the mission of the organization.  EMH’s feasibility report acted as a catalyst for ELF to rethink its own strategy for making direct and positive impacts on the community and go back to the drawing board about what the ideal signature project would be for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

In summer 2015, EMH was re-engaged to work alongside the foundation to develop its reimagined signature project, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Garden and Teaching Kitchen.  In addition to assessing its feasibility, EMH was tasked with working with foundation staff and board members to develop the concept, conducting a landscape analysis of analogs to identify best practices as well as the ‘white space’ where ELF could gain a unique foothold, building out a financial model for the program, developing a curriculum outline, and structuring a system for impact measurement.

EMH Approach

The first part of the process involved assessing the feasibility of the proposed program.  We began by interviewing experts in the space and key ELF stakeholders to better understand their goals for the program and think about how the program should be structured. Simultaneously, we conducted a landscape analysis of similar organizations.  We used this to identify areas in which ELF’s program would be unique and build out a set of best practices so that ELF can avoid many of the early pitfalls of starting a culinary and gardening program for youth.

Following the research phase, we began developing the concept.  This phase was focused on working collaboratively with ELF staff and board members identify the core aims of the program.  We used the objectives of the program to build out a brand concept and logic model that track the program from consumer insights through long term program outcomes.  Developing the concept and core goals of the program also helped us formulate a vision for the program.  Given the numerous goals of the program and varied opinions of board members, there were many iterations of the visioning process before we reached our final answer.

Once we had solidified the concept and gotten buy-in from Emeril and ELF board members, we developed the financial model and budgets for the foundation and each school partner.  We also developed a curriculum outline, which will be used by expert curriculum developers to build out the curriculum scope and sequence of the program.


Chef Emeril had a vision for this project, and EMH executed the necessary tasks to transform that vision into reality. Throughout this project, EMH developed a foundation for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Garden and Teaching Kitchen, which will educate and excite children with cooking and gardening programs and teach them valuable life skills and knowledge about nutrition.  This gave the ELF team the information needed to move forward with developing relationships with potential partner schools.