After fighting adversity in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina levee breeches, Leah Chase reopened Dooky Chase, her family restaurant in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. That restaurant has been her life’s work.
In 1945, she met musician Edgar “Dooky” Chase II, whose parents owned the restaurant. After the two married, and when their children were old enough to attend school, Leah Chase began working at the restaurant three days a week, first as a hostess, later as a chef.
In the years that followed she has transformed Dooky Chase into a landmark of New Orleans cookery, dishing peerless gumbo and other Creole delicacies. Along the way, she has befriended such luminaries as Justice Thurgood Marshall and musician Ray Charles.
Leah Chase served as the first president of the Southern Foodways Alliance Board of Directors. In 2000, she received the organization’s Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award.
Date of interview:
October 9, 2004
April Grayson, Friend of the SFA