She’s called “The Queen of Creole Cuisine.” And we are honored to have a seating with this amazing lady who is truly Louisiana culinary royalty this week in New Orleans when we head to Tales of the Cocktail.
That’s right! We’re visiting with the venerable Ms. Leah Chase, owner of New Orleans landmark Dooky Chase Restaurant on our July 20th edition of The Connected Table LIVE!
Born in 1923, one of 14 children, in Madisonville, Louisiana, Leah moved to New Orleans to live with an aunt to pursue her education since there were no high schools for black children after the sixth grade. She juggled some pretty interesting jobs for a woman back in those days to make a living including managing two amateur boxers and becoming the first woman to mark the racehorse board for a local bookie. And she waited tables in the French Quarter where she caught the restaurant bug.
Leah married New Orleans musician Edgar “Dooky” Chase in 1946. Together they took over the po’boy and lottery stand opened by Dooky’s dad in 1941 and turned it into a full service restaurant. Dooky Chase has been the gathering place for political titans, food cognoscenti, literary lions and dedicated locals ever since. During the Civil Rights movement it was the only public place in New Orleans where mixed race groups could meet to discuss strategy. Maybe thought leaders need to gather at Dooky Chase for a soul nourishing meal and to discuss how to heal the challenges today faced in our nation.
At 93, Leah is still behind the stove and Dooky Chase, lovingly restored after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina, remains a hot spot on the New Orleans culinary trail. Leah has received numerous honors for her work in the community, in civil rights and for her role in American’s culinary heritage. She’s even been the inspiration for a Disney’s Princess; Tiana in Princess and the Frog. This past May, Leah was honored with the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and this Dooky Chase restaurant celebrated its 75th anniversary. That’s more than a lifetime for any restaurant!
We visited Ms Leah at Dooky Chase July 20 and enjoyed a delicious conversation about her life along with heaping portions of fried chicken. You could call it Ms. Leah’s “Fried Chicken for the Soul!” Listen here and share!