“Food can make you happy. You can solve all kinds of problems over a plate of food. And that is a wonderful thing.” Chef Leah Chase
History and hospitality are hallmarks of New Orleans, especially at Dooky Chase’s with Chef Leah Chase, “The Queen of Creole Cuisine” and recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Chef Leah Chase is beloved by all of her culinary colleagues in New Orleans and around the world.
Sitting down for a Kitchen Chat at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant with Chef Leah Chase was truly a milestone in my culinary journey and a hug from heaven. At age 93, Chef Leah Chase continues to be a major influence in the culinary world, and her genuine graciousness radiates her joie de vivre. Dooky Chase’s restaurant is an historic landmark, where leaders of the civil rights movement discussed plans at the table while eating Chef Leah Chase’s gumbo and fried chicken. On a personal note, I would like to think that perhaps my dad had dined at Dooky Chase’s restaurant when he lived in New Orleans. As many of you know, the reason I host Kitchen Chat is to honor my late father and understand his joy of cooking and dining. Although I was born in New Orleans, I primarily grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. My dad taught me at a very young age that racism and discrimination were absolutely intolerable. He would say, “Always remember that we are all God’s children and treat everyone with the same equal respect.” Chef Leah Chase continues to nourish the nation and the world with her ingredients of love, respect, and joy paired with her generous servings of wisdom on living and loving life.
Here are some great life lessons from Chef Leah Chase:
- Learn how to live. “You just have to learn how to live. And that’s what people don’t understand today. They think they have this and they have to have that. You don’t have to have anything. You have to have the will and the appreciation of life to live. Life is about living, and good food doesn’t have to be expensive food but you take time to prepare it.”
- Get involved in the the political system to make it work. “I feel like in some ways in this restaurant we changed the course of America. The civil rights people planned what they were going to do over a bowl of gumbo and some fried chicken.” Everyone can talk about problems and solve them at the dinner table. And it’s important to learn about other countries’ food and ask them what they eat. Then you will better understand the people who live there. “Food changes the world.”
- Enjoy fried chicken only on Sunday. Sunday was a special day and you looked forward to eating a special meal on Sunday – not beans and rice. “Now people want to eat fried chicken everyday and expect to stay healthy, and you can’t do that. You eat fried chicken only on Sunday.”
Thank you, Chef Leah Chase! You are the Queen of Creole Cuisine and the Queen of our hearts!
Savor the day!