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Emeril's Gastronomic Space Voyage

Emeril Lagasse kicked it up several notches last week—200 miles up into space, to be precise.

The famed New Orleans chef and host of Food Network’s Emeril Live and The Essence of Emeril has collaborated with NASA’s culinary brain trust to produce a variety of new dehydrated entrees for astronauts at the International Space Station.

Lagasse developed the dishes over the past year and a half, and last week the current occupants of Space Expedition 13—a Russian, a German and an American—were treated to the ultimate movable feast (in plastic bags): Mardi Gras jambalaya, "Kicked Up" mashed potatoes with bacon, green beans with garlic, rice pudding and mixed fruit.

The reviews came in last Thursday via a NASA-
arranged TV interview between Lagasse and the crew. (Food Network will run the interview Oct. 7.) While they may be more intimate with actual stars than the kind awarded by the Michelin guide, the spacemen pronounced the meal a tour de force.

Emeril was ecstatic, telling reporters after the interview that German flight engineer Thomas Reiter said, "It was one of the best things he’s ever had in space!"

We have to ask, though: What of the, um, after effects of all that spicy food?

"NASA was a little sensitive to that," Lagasse says. "We toned it down a little."