By Stacey Leasca
Emeril Lagasse Cooking in Kitchen
Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Emeril Lagasse may be a world-renowned chef, restaurateur, television host, and businessman, but he's most well-known for one thing and one thing only: His catchphrase, BAM!

Lagasse, who rose to fame thanks to his television show Essence of Emeril, has been able to create one of the most recognizable celebrity food brands thanks not only to his delicious recipes but also because of the singular word, which began as a way to keep his television crew awake.

"In the early days of starting the Food Network, I had a show called The Essence of Emeril. In the beginning days, there was no audience and there were not a lot of production people," Lagasse explained to Bon Appetit. At the time, he explained, he had about six camera people, a stage manager, and a few kitchen managers. In a single day, the crew would crank through about eight episodes, making for a slow, monotonous workday.

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"We'd come back after lunch and start shooting again, and I realized I might as well be alone. I would think, ‘Everyone here is practically sleeping because they ate so much,'" he said. "So I started kicking it up a notch by raising the spice level. ‘BAM!' came to wake them son-of-a-guns up. And that's how it all began."

According to the chef, people still shout the word at him when they seem him on the street. "It is what it is," he said. However, to this day, he wouldn't change his association with the word for the world. But really why would he hate it? The word BAM keeps him at the forefront of every food fan's mind and in 2008 it made him a cool $50 million when he signed a 10-year contract with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

"I wouldn't change it. I've tried it, believe me," he said. "I've tried ‘pow.' I've tried all kinds of things. Bam is just kinda me."