Praise for Leah Chase
“The perfect person to epitomize the Louisiana Gallery . . .
not only has she cooked all her life, she has also represented New Orleans.”
—Liz Williams, founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum
”Leah Chase . . . The Queen of Creole Cuisine . . . is one of
the hottest chefs in town.”
—National Culinary Review
“Leah Chase is a superlative chef who knows her trade, and a wonderful human being.”
—Libby Clark, food editor, Los Angeles Sentinel
“While reading the cookbook, I could not only 'hear' Leah
talking to me about her food, heritage and family, but I could smell and taste
the flavor from the great recipes and the great food that has made Dooky Chase my favorite restaurant.”
—Joe Cahn, executive director, New Orleans School of Cooking
“I went to Dooky Chase/To get me something to eat
The waitress looked at me and said/Ray you sure look beat,
Now its early in the morning/And I ain't got nothing but the blues.”
—Ray Charles, “Early in the Morning Blues”
As the owner and chef extraordinaire of the popular Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans, Leah Chase has distinguished herself as a community and civic leader through her dedicated involvement with numerous charities and organizations. The preeminent chef in the Dooky Chase kitchen, Chase has established a reputation as one of the best masters of Creole cuisine in the nation.
Leah Chase was born in rural Madisonville, Louisiana, and moved to New Orleans at the age of eighteen. After working briefly in a laundry in the French Quarter, she found a job at Colonial Restaurant on Chartres Street. It was the first time she had ever seen the inside of a restaurant.
In 1946, she married Edgar “Dooky” Chase II and shortly after entered his family’s restaurant business, which would grow into the present-day Dooky Chase. Her husband’s mother was running the restaurant, and, as Chase says, “Black people had no other place to go, so she had a captive audience.”
Over the years, as Chase’s expertise and popularity grew, she was able to exert more influence upon the cuisine and atmosphere at Dooky Chase. She successfully grafted her country roots, both in ethics and food, to the black Creole tradition of the city, and the restaurant soon became a reflection of Chase herself and of the black community as a whole.
Leah Chase is a recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum created the Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery in her honor. A portrait of her at work in the kitchen by Gustave Blache III titled Cutting Squash hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Personal Awards and Honors
Louisiana Restaurant Association Restaurateur of the Year Award (2009)
Weiss Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews
Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith
University of New Orleans’ Entrepreneurship Award
Outstanding Woman Award from the National Council of Negro Women
Lafcadio Hearn Award (2000)
Chef John Folse Culinary Institute Hall of Honor Inductee (2000)
New Orleans Times-Picayune Loving Cup Award (1997)
Louisiana NAACP A. P. Tureaud Award (1990)
Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans Hall of Fame Honor (1990)
Included in I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, a book by Brian Lanker
and a traveling exhibition of photographs of seventy-five women (1989)
National Candace Award for one of ten outstanding black women in America (1984)