Dominic Massa / EyewitnessNews

Superstar chef, restaurant owner and food icon Emeril Lagasse, who maintains his company's home base here in New Orleans, will be honored with a Humanitarian of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation.

The organization announced the award on Tuesday. It will be presented May 6 in New York at the James Beard Awards ceremony, often called the Oscars of the food world, with awards presented to restaurants, chefs, food writers and service industry professionals.

'Since Emeril entered the culinary scene more than 20 years ago, he's become one of America's best-known chef personalities.' Said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, who also highlighted Lagasse's support of youth-related causes.

'Through his own foundation, Emeril makes an incredible impact in communities where his restaurants operate by supporting key educational initiatives and culinary arts programs that create opportunities for children in need.'

Lagasse founded the Emeril Lagasse Foundation in 2002. In New Orleans alone, the foundation has given generously to St. Michael Special School, NOCCA and other schools and charitable causes.

In all, the foundation has given over $5 million to education and culinary arts programs in New Orleans, Las Vegas and along the Gulf Coast.

Lagasse and his local restaurants (Emeril's, NOLA, and Emeril's Delmonico) have been honored with James Beard awards and nominations in the past.

This year's James Beard Award finalists will be announced on March 18.

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