Leah Chase

Leah Chase (born January 6, 1923) is a New Orleans chef, author and television personality. She is known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, and advocates for African-American art and Creole cooking. Her restaurant, Dooky Chase, was known as a gathering place during the 1960s among many who participated in the Civil Rights Movement and was known as a gallery due to its extensive African-American art collection.

Leah Chase has spent the last seven decades serving her signature gumbo and hospitality to everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to James Baldwin to Barack Obama.

Leah Chase, named the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” has been the executive chef at Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans since the 1940’s. A longtime advocate for civil rights, her restaurant was a meeting place for the Freedom Riders and prominent civil rights activists, and one of the first places in the segregated south where blacks and whites could dine together. A lifelong resident of Louisiana, she is a patron of local artists, amassing a distinguished collection of African-American art displayed at Dooky Chase. The chef is widely considered to be a pioneer of soul food and an icon of American cooking.

Leah Chase’s New Orleans restaurant Dooky Chase changed the course of American history over gumbo and fried chicken. During the civil rights movement, it was a place where white and black people came together, where activists planned protests and where the police entered but did not disturb — and it continues to operate in the same spirit today. In conversation with TEDWomen Curator Pat Mitchell, the 94-year old Queen of Creole Cuisine (who still runs the Dooky Chase kitchen), shares her wisdom from a lifetime of activism, speaking up and cooking.

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