FALL RIVER, Mass. — Ines De Costa, the woman who taught celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse how to cook, has died, her daughter said.
De Costa died overnight in her sleep at her Fall River home after spending Friday cooking in a city athletic club kitchen, her daughter, Ines Bates, said Tuesday. DeCosta was 79.
De Costa had been suffering from heart problems for several years, her daughter said.
“She was a magnificent woman who thought food could fix anything,” Bates said. “God was so good to her.”
Lagasse did not immediately issue a statement Tuesday.
When Lagasse was a boy of about 9 or 10, he used to sit and watch De Costa in the kitchen of a restaurant she owned at the time in nearby Swansea when he visited with his family, Bates said.
Lagasse included many of De Costa’s recipes in his cookbooks, although she was never afraid to scold him for fiddling with her ingredients.
“He put a recipe for her St. John’s kale soup in one book, but she said he put in too much salt, and called to yell at him,” Bates said. “Mom was a surprise guest on his TV show once, and she came out on stage and started yelling at him for messing up her recipes.”
Lagasse maintained a loving lifelong relationship with the woman he called his second mother. He always checked in on her whenever he visited his home town, and she was a frequent guest at his New Orleans restaurant.
De Costa, known throughout Fall River as “Vo” — a Portuguese word for grandmother — ran the kitchen at St. John’s Athletic Club for 33 years after retiring from the restaurant business.
De Costa was born in the Azores and moved to the U.S. in 1952.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by two sons. Her husband, Manuel, died 22 years ago.
A public wake is scheduled for Thursday. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Friday at St. John of God Church in Somerset followed by burial next to her husband.