Brian Matthews (The Ubiquitous Librarian) had a great post back in early January entitled: Be like Emeril: my response to Steven Bell.
It is so well written I can only say: READ IT!
I am a huge Emeril Lagasse fan, although I do not currently watch the show as much as I used to, it is on at a different time here than it was in the East. But Brian is correct about how the enthusiasm and charisma of Emeril brought The Food Network alive for many people. He set the stage in the same way that Julia Child did years and years ago on public television.