New Orleans lost a great friend in Leah Chase on June 1, 2019. Leah Chase was Chef at Dooky Chase’s restaurant and a beloved culinary icon in New Orleans and beyond. Many knew her as the Queen of Creole Cuisine but perhaps Leah Chase’s biggest accomplishment was as a civil rights activist.
As a tribute to Leah, I will re-post several of my interviews with her as she recalled her life from her early childhood years to her days as a civil rights activist.
This 2006 interview took place in Leah’s FEMA trailer, where she talked about the return of Dooky Chase restaurant following the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina. We talked about Creole food, and the distinction between European Creole cuisine and the cuisine of Creoles of Color. While speaking about the evolution of Creole food, Leah pointed out that integration exposed Blacks to European Creole cooking. Black cooks then contributed their knowledge and ingredients, adding to New Orleans’ rich culinary tradition.