The food community is saddened by news of the death of Leah Chase, chef, author, television personality, inspiration for Disney’s Princess Tiana, proponent of African American art, and one of the people who kept the Civil Rights movement going, even cooking for Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. Leah Chase, winner of the James Beard lifetime achievement award, was 96 years old. She was predeceased three years ago by her husband, the eponymous Dooky Chase.
I fell in love with Leah Chase when I saw her on a cooking show using a humble fork as her only utensil. This was a woman with no pretension. Whenever I was in New Orleans I made sure to stop at Dooky Chase, her restaurant in the Treme area. And she was always in the kitchen with a ready smile. I went to the restaurant’s buffet lunch as they were still rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. And who do you think was in the kitchen cooking up my meal? The grande dame herself. I am saddened to think that her kitchen stands empty today.
In their official statement the family writes, “While we mourn her loss, we celebrate her remarkable life, and cherish the life lessons she taught us. The Family will continue her legacy of “Work, Pray, and Do for Others.”