Kitchen Konversations: Chef Leah Chase

“Over a bowl of gumbo, you make decisions.” -Leah Chase.

Martin Luther King Jr. Meal

When you think about your day to day, most business meetings happen over a meal. When we think about African American history, we can’t forget the role food played in our story. Chef Chase gives a great account to how important a bowl of gumbo and fried chicken were during the civil rights era. From feeding the brain to feeding the soul, food is the connector that brings people together.

As you embark on your own journey to change the world, don’t forget to whip up a pot gumbo.

About Chef Chase

Known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” Leah Chase has fed Quincy Jones, Jesse Jackson, Duke Ellington, Thurgood Marshall, James Baldwin, Ray Charles, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and countless others as Executive Chef of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant — one of the best-known and most culturally significant restaurants in New Orleans. Leah Chase has more recently served as the inspiration for Princess Tiana in Disney’s Princess and the Frog.

Chase has received many awards, including multiple awards from the NAACP, the New Orleans Times-Picayune 1997 Loving Cup Award, the Weiss Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Outstanding Woman Award from the National Council of Negro Women. 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 is also the recipient of the Francis Anthony Drexel Medal, the highest award presented to an individual by Xavier University of Louisiana. The medal is not presented annually. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana named a permanent gallery in Chase’s honor in 2009. Chef Chase serves on many boards, including the Arts Council of New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Urban League. She is member of the Women of The Storm and the International Women’s Forum. Chef Chase has four children, sixteen grandchildren and twenty-two great-grandchildren.

Next time you are in New Orleans, visit her restaurant

“About the Chef.” Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.


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