Celebrating the life and work of Leah Chase, Queen of Creole Cuisine
June 5, 2019 1:26 PM   Subscribe

"You can get to anybody's heart over a bowl of gumbo. Over some good food, you can do that." Leah Chase, restaurateur, civil rights activist, art collector, and the queen of Creole cuisine, died last Saturday at the age of 96. Even into her 90s, she was a force in the kitchen at Dooky Chase's, a New Orleans landmark. And she was so much more.

Holy Thursday at Dooky Chase's (YT)

Ms. Chase on why art is like a prayer (YT)

Gumbo 101 with Chef Leah Chase (YT)

Southern chefs, food writers celebrate iconic restaurateur Leah Chase in photos

"Cutting Squash (Leah Chase)," by Gustave Blache III

NOLA.com: Celebrating the life of Leah Chase with a pop-up second-line in New Orleans

And finally, in her own words: Leah Chase on life, food, New Orleans and leadership

"Food builds big bridges. If you can eat with someone, you can learn from them, and when you learn from someone, you can make big changes. We changed the course of America in this restaurant over bowls of gumbo. We can talk to each other and relate to each other when we eat together."
posted by MonkeyToes (22 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

Always enjoyed seeing her on Top Chef. You could tell that chefs who knew their stuff really respected her.
posted by sallybrown at 2:03 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]

posted by praemunire at 2:06 PM on June 5

posted by Token Meme at 2:14 PM on June 5

posted by grandiloquiet at 2:20 PM on June 5

Her segment in the food travel show Somebody Feed Phil was a big factor in my decision to visit New Orleans on vacation last year and I must say, the buffet at Dooky Chase was one of the absolute highlights of an exemplary long weekend of eating and drinking. (I still think about her shrimp and lima beans dish!)

R.I.P. to an amazing person who lived long and lived well.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:30 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]

posted by headspace at 3:00 PM on June 5

posted by narancia at 3:20 PM on June 5

Sallybrown, I was thinking the same thing. What a tremendous blessing she was to the world.
posted by epj at 3:46 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

People are partying in the street, sitting out. so nice to see
posted by eustatic at 4:14 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]

Anyone know how to get the Amistad recordings out to the public? She and other civil rights activists, like Ron Chisholm, have all these cassette tapes from the 1980's that you can listen to, old interviews, but i imagine they haven't been digitized.
posted by eustatic at 4:16 PM on June 5

We ate at her restaurant and met her in passing just at the beginning of April. It was delicious. RIP.
posted by Windigo at 7:49 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Chase is the first of nine women profiled by Janet Dewart Bell last year in her book Lighting the Fires of Freedom.

From the inside front cover: “During the Civil Rights Movement, African American women did not stand on ceremony; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the Movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public. Beyond Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, most Americans would be hard-pressed to name other leaders at the community, local, and national levels. [This book] shines a light on women’s all-too-often overlooked achievements in the Movement.”
posted by LeLiLo at 8:24 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]

posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 9:55 PM on June 5

Last thing this damn fool world needs is one less fantastic person, let alone a great Creole chef.

posted by nfalkner at 10:26 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]

Legendary Dooky Chase's even made it into Ray Charles' song, "Early In The Morning".
posted by DJZouke at 4:59 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

She was as close to a royalty as we have here. I hadn't ever really stopped to think about it but Brett Martin's tweet on the subject gave me pause:
"I wouldn't wish the kind of secular sainthood Leah Chase bore in this city on anybody. From a distance, I sometimes worried it was unfair. But it's hard to imagine anybody wearing it with more strength or grace."
posted by komara at 6:54 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

komara, this line from Michael Twitty just broke my heart: "She....would be your mother, your grandmother, your blood you had none."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:32 AM on June 6

posted by YankeeKing6700 at 9:20 AM on June 6

Rest in peace.

Eustatic, [disclosure] these link to the museum/archive where I work, but here is an oral history with Leah Chase, and some related media. In addition, one of our curators has been working on oral histories of people active in the Civil Rights movement in New Orleans for a project called NOLA Resistance for several years, and so far 20 are available online with transcripts.
posted by CheeseLouise at 9:32 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

We used to watch her cooking show, Creole Cooking with Leah Chase, on PBS, religiously. It always felt like she was somehow feeding souls right through the screen.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:39 AM on June 6

Ever since Obama visited th restaurant and I've known of Leah Chase's work, I've wanted to visit NOLA just to eat there.

posted by one teak forest at 1:37 PM on June 6

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