Leah Chase: a Queen and a Princess

To be a woman, you have to look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a dog. -- Leah Chase The “Queen of Creole Cuisine” passed away this June 1st at the age of 96, and New Orleans celebrated the life of Leyah “Leah” Lange Chase in appropriate fashion. Leah began working for her in-laws’ restaurant – Dooky Chase’s – in 1946 turning what was a small sandwich and bar enterprise that began in 1941, into a fine dining establishment. It truly was unique since there was not another elegant restaurant that could entertain the black community during the 1950s. She added Creole cuisine to the menu and tablecloths to the dining area. In Treme, about a mile north and west of the French Quarter located across from the Lafitte Public Housing Development, the corner site later became a gathering place for both black and white civil rights activists. At the time, it was not lawful to serve all races of customers together and Leah’s own “upper room” was a haven for those planning events which preceded the Civil Rights Act. Many Freedom Riders and NAACP officials together with Dr. Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall and Jesse Jackson regularly met at the restaurant. The local police never interfered with the diners upstairs. Food builds bridges. If you can eat with someone, you can learn from them and when you learn from someone, you can make big chan
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After 48-1/2 years, Shelly Gallichio is a retired Real Estate Associate Broker in Tucson, Arizona and despite growing up in Chicago, fell in love with the clarinet and the New Orleans sound at the age of three—she intends to spend the next 48-1/2 years seeking that sound! Reach her at [email protected]

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