“Celebrating Leah Chase’s culinary revolution”
Written by Giavanna Foster
Today, FOODNLA is celebrating Leah Chase’s culinary legacy as a woman of excellence and leadership in the world of food. With her recent transition, her dedication to Louisiana and Creole cuisine shine brightly. A master chef in the art of gumbo, Leah Chase’s culinary inspiration transformed America’s food and hospitality industries.
Leah Chase’s passion for Creole cuisine inspired her to enter Louisiana’s culinary scene with the grand opening of her own eatery, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. She named the restaurant after her husband. This Louisiana eatery fuses top-of-the-line Creole cuisine with authentic southern hospitality. She is a true voice of southern hospitality.
“Everybody is worth something… It’s about making people feel good,” Leah Chase voiced.
Leah Chase, known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine”, was an award-winning Creole chef and restaurateur. Chase’s favorite job was waiting tables at the French Quarter. While Chase worked at this job, she developed a true passion for cooking and serving food to other people with southern hospitality. She became motivated to cook quality Creole dishes for customers and connect with people each day with an infectious joy for life.
For more than 70 years, Chase ran Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. This Louisiana eatery is culturally and historically significant in many ways. This restaurant includes historical African-American art. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was a neutral zone that brought cultures together in unity during the Civil Rights Movement. A simple woman at heart, she served some of the greatest dignitaries and political leaders including former presidents George Bush and Barack Obama. Duke Ellington and Ray Charles have also eaten at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. Also, Ray Charles’ cover of “Early in the Morning” mentions this eatery.
As a born leader in culinary arts, Leah Chase received a list of honorary awards. In 2010, Chase became an inductee of the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage. Chase received an accolade from the Francis Anthony Drexel Medal, which is the highest award individuals may receive. It was presented by Xavier University in Louisiana. Also, Chase is the inspiration for Princess Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.
Leah Chase transitioned at the age of 96 in New Orleans. Her zest for life, joy for good food, and love of people inspired food patrons who became loyal customers. She cooked with love and wanted her customers to know that she saw them as part of her family. There were no walls with her. Her joy shined each day as she greeted customers to leave their cares behind and enjoy good Creole food. As a culinary pioneer, Leah Chase’s legacy will live on forever in New Orleans and America.