My family hails from Louisiana. We frequented New Orleans and I grew up around creole cooking. There is something about a good pot of gumbo or even fried chicken done right that will have you swearing no one else can cook it right. Then there is Leah Chase. She served dignitaries, Presidents, NOLA elite, school kids and locals for years! Dooky Chase Creole Cuisine is a New Orleans mainstay at the corner of North Miro Street and Orleans Ave and has been around for years serving authentic local food. Leah Chase, iconic executive chef, civil rights activist, and co-owner of the legendary Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, died Saturday her family announced. She was 96 years old. “Her daily joy was not simply cooking, but preparing meals to bring people together,” her family said in a written statement.

The doors of this iconic restaurant opened in 1941. It started out as a sandwich shop and lottery ticket spot in 1939 and soon blossomed into what we know it to be today.

GWB at the dinner and entertainment at the 2008 North American Leaders’ Summit in New Orleans Monday, April 21, 2008. White House photo byJoyce N. Boghosian

In 1946, Edgar Dooky Chase, Jr. married Leah Lange Chase. Through the vision of Leah Chase, the barroom and sandwich shop grew into a sit-down restaurant wrapped within a cultural environment of African-American art and Creole cooking. Later known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase would introduce one of the first African American fine dining restaurants to the Country. In addition to her signature Creole Cuisine, Leah would begin to showcase African American Art throughout the walls of Dooky’s. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was the first art gallery for black artists in New Orleans.  You can read more on the history of the location at

The restaurant remains family owned and has been seen on television shows such as Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern and more. When you eat your next bowl of gumbo or a Po’Boy, fondly remember Leah and her contributions to NOLA cooking.