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Leah Chase

Leah Chase was a celebrated chef, restaurateur, and civil rights activist who had been a cornerstone of New Orleans culinary culture for over 70 years. Born in 1923 to Creole parents in the Tremé neighborhood, Chase was known for introducing traditional African recipes and techniques to her native city’s cuisine—blending together ingredients from French, Spanish, American Indian, Italian and of course Creole cooking.

In 1941 she and her husband opened Dooky Chase restaurant in their home. What started as a small luncheonette was eventually transformed into an iconic eatery that served meals to some of the most famous Black leaders of the 20th century. Her influence on New Orleans’ cuisine didn’t end with Dooky Chase; she also collaborated with local chefs and restaurateurs to help develop dishes that would come to define the city’s food culture.

Throughout her career Leah Chase earned numerous awards and accolades—among them a James Beard Award, an honor bestowed upon the nation’s top chefs. She was also inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame and National Women's Hall of Fame.

Her legacy lives on through her inspiring words: “Be yourself…and if you can do something good with it then do it!” The spirit of these words resonates powerfully throughout every bite taken at Dooky Chase Restaurant—a true testament to this pioneering chef’s lasting impact on our nation’s culinary history.

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