One of New Orleans’ most famous chefs has passed away.
Leah Chase, famous not only for her food but for the people she fed, passed away on Saturday at the age of 96.
Chase has fed some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights movement. Among those that have dined on her cuisine are Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, Jr.
She also happened to be a favorite of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Obamas dined at her restaurant on numerous occasions and Barack almost insulted the chef. While preparing to eat some of her gumbo, Obama reportedly reached for the hot sauce, much to the displeasure of the chef.
Chase reportedly slapped his hand and told him to eat it like she made it.
Pillar of the Local Community
Chase lived and breathed the New Orleans spirit. She believed, “If your soul is in New Orleans, I know what to give you.”
That would usually consist of some stewed chicken or her famous gumbo. After her death, her family stated, “Her daily joy was not simply cooking, but preparing meals to bring people together.”
Among the many things Chase was known for, her proudest was her contribution to the Civil Rights movement.
The restaurant that bore her father-in-law’s name, Dooky Chase, was transformed over the years from a simple sandwich shop to one of the most popular restaurants the city has ever known.
Her journey started in 1946, when she wanted to create something different for people of color. Chase wanted a fine-dining restaurant that would rival any other not only in New Orleans but throughout the entire country.
Leah may have passed, but her legacy will surely live on forever. Rest in peace Chef Leah, you will be missed.