Leah Chase in April 2008
January 6, 1923 |
Madisonville, Louisiana, United States
|Education||Colonial Restaurant, French Quarter, New Orleans, United States|
Leah Chase (born January 6, 1923) is a New Orleans chef, author and television personality. She is known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, and advocates for African-American art and Creole cooking. Her restaurant, Dooky Chase, was known as a gathering place during the 1960s among many who participated in the Civil Rights movement; and was known as a gallery due to its extensive African-American art collection.
Chase has been the recipient of a multitude of awards and honors. In her 2002 biography, Chase's awards and honors occupy over two pages. Chase was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2010. She was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2000. Chase received honorary degrees from Tulane University, Dillard University, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Madonna College, Loyola University New Orleans, and Johnson & Wales University. She was awarded Times-Picayune Loving Cup Award in 1997. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana named a permanent gallery in Chase's honor in 2009.
Leah Chase was born to Creole parents in Madisonville, Louisiana, United States. When Chase was 14 years old, she moved to New Orleans to live with relatives and attend St. Mary's Academy. After high school, Chase worked in the Colonial Restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. In 1945, she married musician Edgar "Dooky" Chase II, whose parents owned the Dooky Chase Restaurant. Chase began working at the restaurant during the 1950s and, over time, she eventually converted the menu to reflect her own family's Creole recipes. She also developed an interest in African-American art and began to display dozens of paintings by local African-American artists.
Dooky Chase's 5th Ward location was flooded by Hurricane Katrina and was not scheduled to reopen until the summer of 2006. To save Chase's African-American art collection from damage, her grandson placed the art collection in storage. The New Orleans restaurant community got together on April 14, 2006 (Holy Thursday) to hold a benefit, charging $75 to $500 per person for a gumbo z'herbes, fried chicken, and bread pudding lunch at a posh French Quarter restaurant. The guests consumed 50 gallons of gumbo and raised $40,000 for the 82-year-old Mrs. Chase. Dooky Chase restaurant was scheduled to open April 5, 2007. It opened mostly for take-out and special events due to shortage of trained waitstaff.
In the 2012 revival of Tennessee Williams's classic New Orleans play A Streetcar Named Desire, which had an all-African-American cast, a mention of the restaurant Galatoire's (which was segregated during the play's post-war 1940s time period) was changed to a mention of Dooky Chase's Restaurant, which was integrated.
Leah Chase hosts a cooking show devoted to Creole cooking, and she is the author of several cookbooks.
Cookbooks by Leah Chase
- The Dooky Chase Cookbook (1990) ISBN 0-88289-661-X
- And I Still Cook (2003) ISBN 1-56554-823-X
- Down Home Healthy : Family Recipes of Black American Chefs (1994) ISBN 0-16-045166-3
- Judy Walker, The Times-Picayune. "The Queen of Creole Cuisine's latest honor is a museum gallery". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "New Orleans chefs make list of James Beard food awards | wwltv.com New Orleans". Wwltv.com. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "SFA | Hall of Fame | Lifetime Achievement Award | Leah Chase". Southernfoodways.com. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "New Orleans, Louisiana Local News". Nola.com. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "Children's Defense Fund: Children's Defense Fund". Cdf.childrensdefense.org. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- New Orleans Classic Desserts – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "Gov. Jindal, Guantanamo attorney to speak at 2009 Loyola commencement – Herbie Hancock to receive honorary degree – Loyola University New Orleans". Noah.loyno.edu. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "Loving Cup winners" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-29.
- Eliot Kamenitz / The Times-Picayune. "Leah Chase selected for 1997 T-P Loving Cup". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- The Times-Picayune Archive (2010-04-01). "Gumbo tradition lures the Holy Thursday faithful to Dooky Chase's Restaurant". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- NPR Staff (2012-04-21). "Blair Underwood On Stanley, Stella And 'Streetcar'". NPR.com. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leah Chase.|
- Leah Chase New Orleans Online
- Lifetime Achievement Award – Leah Chase Southern Foodways Alliance (2000)
- Allen, Carol Listen, I Say Like This (biography of Leah Chase) (2002)ISBN 1-58980-048-6
- Leah Chase of Dooky Chase Restaurant St. Mary's Academy Newsletter
- Can New Orleans Get Cooking Again? Los Angeles Daily News (November 8, 2005)
- Leah Chase's oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project
- Audio interview with Leah Chase, New Orleans PodCasting (November 21, 2006)
- "Mrs. Leah Chase" article, Where Y'At Magazine, July 2008