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Spirit of Acadiana: The giving heart of Ema Haq

Posted: 6:44 AM, Nov 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-21 07:44:43-05

Thanksgiving is a time when so many wonderful people truly shine and make the needs of those less fortunate a top priority.  One such person is Lafayette’s Ema Haq.

Embodying the true “Spirit of Acadiana,” Scott Brazda shares the story of how Ema Haq became Ema Haq.

Haq says he never intended to own a restaurant.

“When I first came here, I didn’t even know how to cook rice.”

The owner of Bailey’s, Ema Haq has certainly come a long way since his arrival as a USL student in 1983. The youngest of four children, he came from Bangladesh to study mechanical engineering.

“I didn’t know too much,” says Haq of his arrival. “But, as you know, when you come here it becomes home. Acadiana such a warm and friendly place.”

Ema worked his way through school in the foodservice industry, first at USL, then at the Hilton and then over to Shangri-La. Along the way, he started to cook.

“I love to cook any chance,” says Haq. “I love to get in the kitchen,  I like to try.”

For a while, Ema juggled his work as an engineer with owning a restaurant. As he did, he began winning medals and other accolades for his culinary abilities.

“Chef Paul Prudhomme asked me, ‘chef where did you go to culinary school?’ I said, ‘Chef, I’m building a drilling rig in Belle Chasse, but I do have a restaurant.'”

Bailey’s Restaurant, Bailey’s Offshore Catering, plus his food service company have taken over his heart, his mind, and his soul. It is clear that Ema loves nothing better than to serve and create.

Whatever you ask him to cook, says Ema, he’ll cook. And he does so with the freshest ingredients. Many of them sourced from right here in Acadiana.

While he is a successful businessman, that’s not what drives him through is day. An equally important part of his life is his wife and three children. There’s also honoring his parents and making sure he gives his very best at anything and everything he does.

“I’m not an athlete, I can’t run fast. But as a kid, I learned to give it everything I have,” says Haq.

But even more than all of that, there is Ema Haq’s belief that human beings can be so much more. Particularly when they think of the needs of other human beings.

“I think we have an obligation to do for others, share it. If I can make someone’s life better, that makes me extremely happy.”