Creole Master Chef
Leah Chase (born January 6, 1923) is a New Orleans chef, author and television personality. A daughter of the same name is a professional singer; see Leah Chase (singer).
Known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Chase promoted African American art and Creole cooking. Her restaurant, Dooky Chase, was known as a gathering place during the 1960s among many who participated in the Civil Rights movement; and, her restaurant was known as a gallery due to its extensive African American Art collection.
Leah Chase was born to Creole parents in Madisonville, Louisiana, United States. When Chase was 14 years old, she moved to New Orleans to live with relatives and attend St. Mary's Academy. After high school, Chase worked in the Colonial Restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. In 1945, she married musician Edgar "Dooky" Chase II, whose parents owned the Dooky Chase Restaurant. Chase began working at the restaurant during the 1950s and, over time, she eventually converted the menu to reflect her own family's Creole recipes. She also developed an interest in African American art and began to display dozens of paintings by local African American artists.
The gumbo z'herbes prepared and served on Holy Thursday by Leah Chase, owner of Dooky Chase Restaurant and widely considered one of the greats of Creole cuisine, is one that uses this "kitchen sink" approach.
Dooky Chase's 5th Ward location was flooded by Hurricane Katrina and was not scheduled to reopen until the summer of 2006. To save Chase's African-American art collection from damage, her grandson placed the art collection in storage. The New Orleans restaurant community got together on April 14, 2006 (Holy Thursday) to hold a benefit, charging $75 to $500 per person for a gumbo z'herbes, fried chicken, and bread pudding lunch at a posh French Quarter restaurant. The guests consumed 50 gallons of gumbo and raised $40,000 for the 82-year-old Mrs. Chase. Dooky Chase restaurant was scheduled to open April 5, 2007. It opened mostly for take-out and special events due to shortage of trained waitstaff.
Leah Chase hosts a cooking show devoted to Creole cooking, and she is the author of several cookbooks.
Cookbooks by Leah Chase
- The Dooky Chase Cookbook (1990) ISBN 0-88289-661-X
- And I Still Cook (2003) ISBN 1-56554-823-X
- Down Home Healthy : Family Recipes of Black American Chefs (1994) ISBN 0-16-045166-3