Show 330, June 29, 2019: Remembering New Orleans’ Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

Leah Chase of Dooky Chase in New Orleans“New Orleans’ revered Leah Chase, passed away surrounded by her family on June 1, 2019. Leah Chase, lovingly referred to as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, was the executive chef and co-owner of the historic and legendary Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. She was a major supporter of cultural and visual arts and an unwavering advocate for civil liberties and full inclusion of all.

“Chef Leah was a proud entrepreneur, a believer in the Spirit of New Orleans and the good will of all people, and an extraordinary woman of faith.”

“In a town deeply divided by segregation, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was one of the only public places in New Orleans where mixed race groups could meet to discuss strategy for the local Civil Rights Movement. Although such gatherings were illegal through most of the 1960s, Dooky Chase’s was so popular; it would have caused a public uproar if local law enforcement had interrupted the meetings. Black voter registration campaign organizers, the NAACP, backdoor political meetings and countless others often found a home at Dooky Chase’s, and Leah cooked for them all.“

The National Food and Beverage Foundation (based in New Orleans) has mounted a novel campaign to monumentally honor Chef Chase’s memory in New Orleans.

Philip Dobard of National Food & Beverage Foundation dishes up the specifics for us.

Play

Show 195, October 29, 2016: Ti Martin, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans

Ti Adelaide MartinThe Brennan Family represents the royalty of highly influential restaurateurs in New Orleans. The dynasty is led by the incomparable Miss Ella Brennan. She is a mother, chef mentor, and blunt-talking matriarch of the Brennan Family’s New Orleans empire whose flagship is the pioneering Commander’s Palace. Miss Ella and her daughter, Ti Adelaide Martin, have written her absorbing biography and, as expected, it’s a page-turner. Ti Martin joins us with a preview.

Ella Brennan, “Miss Ella,” changed the way America eats. At 18-years old, she went to work at her brother’s bar on Bourbon Street. The New Orleans dining scene had no idea what was about to hit it. Turns out it was one of America’s greatest business coaches, whose impact on the restaurant industry and Creole cuisine is evident across the nation today. Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace is the story of The Brennan Family’s beloved restaurant matriarch!

When Miss Ella and her family launched Commander’s Palace, it quickly became the city’s most popular restaurant, where famous chefs such as Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, and James Beard Award winner Troy McPhail got their start.

Ti Adelaide Martin is the daughter of Ella Brennan. Raised in New Orleans, she has followed in her mother’s footsteps and is now co-proprietor of Commander’s Palace. She remembers her mother “always hosting these lavish parties at our house,” she recalls. “There were always lots of interesting people there from around the country, many from the culinary world.”

Play