Legend. Icon. Activist. Pioneer and real life Disney princess, these are just a few accolades New Orleans legend Leah Chase has acquired throughout her seven-decade long career.
The chef and civil rights icon passed away Saturday surrounded by her family and loved ones according to a written statement released this morning.
Leah Chase, lovingly referred to as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, was the executive chef and co-owner of the historic and legendary Dooky Chase’s Restaurant.The Chase Family
She has fed presidents, broken segregation laws seating blacks and whites together, and fed those on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. Her and husband, Edgar “Dooky” Chase, made their small, elegant restaurant a safe haven for activists in the 60’s and transformed this small sandwich shop into living memorial of Louisiana cuisine as well as history throughout the years.
The eloquent dining hall is a beautiful mixing pot of black art, southern hospitality, and delightful dispositions with the walls being adorned with local as well as national artwork the encapsulates a perfect dining atmosphere.
Hospitality was the name of the game at Dooky Chase’s, with a Sunday family dinner vibe each every time. With all the warmth of home Chase insisted on service combining her upbringing in Madisonville, Louisiana as well as her years as a server in the Crescent City to create an experience only equaled by the taste of her food. Each dish is carefully, lovingly almost, embodies the rich culture and history of New Orleans unseen anywhere is the world.
“Her daily joy was not simply cooking, but preparing meals to bring people together,” a release from the Chase family read.
Chef Chase’s contribution to American culture and has garnered her numerous even having a permanent gallery named after her in The Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Her influence even inspired a Disney Princess, Princess Tiana, of “The Princess and the Frog” movie in 2009.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell commented the importance of Leah Chase’s legacy to the world in a tweet calling her “a culture-bearer in the truest sense.”
“We are poorer for her loss, and richer for having known and having loved her. She will be badly missed.”Latoya Cantrell, New Orleans Mayor
The family has vowed to continue her legacy of “Work, Pray, and Do for Others.”