Meet the Stars: Leah Chase

In Pride & Joy, Joe York visits dozens of men and women who dedicate their lives to growing, catching, cooking, serving, or studying food and drink in the South. Some are the subjects of previous SFA short films, and there are many new faces as well.

Leah Chase is one of the fifty founding members of the SFA (she was our first board president, in fact) and the matriarch of Dooky Chase Restaurant, a New Orleans institution.

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.

You’ll hear more of her story in her own words in Pride & Joy. To tide yourself over, check out our 2004 oral history with Mrs. Chase, or read Sara Roahen’s excellent profile of her in the October/November 2011 issue of Garden & Gun.

Food is about everything, you know. You can do everything – music and food, people and food. That’s the most important thing about food: It brings you [together] with people. And I think that’s the only reason why I stayed in it that long.            —Leah Chase




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