Legendary New Orleans Chef Leah Chase Passes Away

Owner of the iconic Dooky Chase’s in New Orleans, Creole chef Leah Chase passed away Saturday at 96.

What We Know:

  • Known by many as one of the best chefs in the nation, Chase served Creole classics for Nola for the last 70 years.
  • Dooky Chase’s, named after Chase’s trumpet playing husband, started out as a sandwich spot in the Treme Quarter of New Orleans and was later transformed into a sit-down restaurant where the dishes she loved were served to everyone.
  • Her restaurant became not only a place where black people could try dishes they normally couldn’t due to segregation laws at the time, but was also a safe haven for all races, breaking the New Orleans’ laws by not having a “colored” section.
  • The restaurant grew in popularity during this time, leading to NAACP meetings being held there including well-known visitors such as Thurgood Marshall and even Martin Luther King Jr. The popularity didn’t wane over the years with people still visiting such as Barack Obama, who got a playful slap after trying to add hot sauce to her gumbo in 2008.
  • Chase earned numerous awards for her work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2016 stating “I love people and I love serving people…It’s fun for me to serve people. Because sometimes people will come in and they’re tired. And just a little plate of food will make people happy” Chase stated in 2016.

Her legacy and her work will live on forever.


Madelyn Gee and Tiffanie Lanelle contributed to this article.