The Dooky Chase Cookbook

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Delectable Creole recipes from both the restaurant menu and personal files. Leah Chase spices her cookbook with stories that reflect her Creole heritage and document the origin of various recipes.
ISBN: 9780882896618
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Pelican Publishing
State: Louisiana
Series: Restaurant Cookbooks
Images: 13
Pages: 224
Dimensions: 6 (w) x 9 (h)
As the owner and chef extraordinaire of the popular Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans, Leah Chase has distinguished herself as a community and civic leader through her dedicated involvement with numerous charities and organizations. The preeminent chef in the Dooky Chase kitchen, Chase has established a reputation as one of the best masters of Creole cuisine in the nation. Leah Chase was born in rural Madisonville, Louisiana, and moved to New Orleans at the age of eighteen. After working briefly in a laundry in the French Quarter, she found a job at Colonial Restaurant on Chartres Street. It was the first time she had ever seen the inside of a restaurant. In 1946, she married Edgar "Dooky" Chase II and shortly after entered his family's restaurant business, which would grow into the present-day Dooky Chase. Her husband's mother was running the restaurant, and, as Chase says, "Black people had no other place to go, so she had a captive audience." Over the years, as Chase's expertise and popularity grew, she was able to exert more influence upon the cuisine and atmosphere at Dooky Chase. She successfully grafted her country roots, both in ethics and food, to the black Creole tradition of the city, and the restaurant soon became a reflection of Chase herself and of the black community as a whole. Leah Chase is a recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum created the Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery in her honor. A portrait of her at work in the kitchen by Gustave Blache III titled Cutting Squash hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Praise for Leah Chase "The perfect person to epitomize the Louisiana Gallery . . . not only has she cooked all her life, she has also represented New Orleans." -Liz Williams, founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum "Leah Chase . . . The Queen of Creole Cuisine . . . is one of the hottest chefs in town." -National Culinary Review "Leah Chase is a superlative chef who knows her trade, and a wonderful human being." -Libby Clark, food editor, Los Angeles Sentinel "While reading the cookbook, I could not only 'hear' Leah talking to me about her food, heritage and family, but I could smell and taste the flavor from the great recipes and the great food that has made Dooky Chase my favorite restaurant." -Joe Cahn, executive director, New Orleans School of Cooking "I went to Dooky Chase/To get me something to eat The waitress looked at me and said/Ray you sure look beat, Now its early in the morning/And I ain't got nothing but the blues." -Ray Charles, "Early in the Morning Blues" Praise for Dooky Chase's Cuisine Chase attributes the initial popularity of the new Dooky Chase (after her arrival) to her change in the gumbo recipe, insisting that, "It wasn't until I changed the whole menu to Creole that I really got acceptance from everybody." Indeed, her presence was felt as the customers began to see a change in the food they were being offered. She originally tried to gain patrons by serving dishes such as jambalaya, fried chicken, shrimp, and oysters-foods that blacks wouldn't normally eat at home-but eventually changed the entire menu to Creole, boosting Dooky Chase's cuisine to national recognition. Inventive as well as traditional Creole dishes are the mainstay of Chase's repertoire. B.L.T. Soup (a lettuce-based soup with bacon drippings and crumbles with a tomato garnish), Bushalini, Stewed Tripe with Pigs' Feet, Grillades, Squirrel Pie, Low-Sodium Creole Red Kidney Beans, Stuffed Onions, and Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding have all graced the tables of Dooky Chase. Says Mimi Sheraton, Esquire magazine's nationally known food critic, "Whether the gumbo you order at Dooky Chase's is made with okra or filé, it will be some of New Orleans's best, as will the fried chicken, coated with a crisp, flaky breading." The Political Crowd From the inception of the Dooky Chase restaurant in 1941, the establishment functioned as a gathering place for the black political community of New Orleans. As life for blacks gradually began to change, the restaurant became the hub of black political activity. The emergence of the civil rights movement in the 1960s gave Chase a new cause to work for; however, as is her style, Chase chose to work for black equality "within the system." The importance of politics to Leah Chase is probably best illustrated by the story of the Wild Game Dinner. The beginning of this tradition was in 1978, when New Orleans mayor Ernest "Dutch" Morial's wife instructed him to rid her freezer of forty ducks. In response to his wife's request, the mayor brought the game to Chase to cook. Political friends and foes were invited to Dooky Chase for the feast, and few dared refuse the invitation. The tradition was born, and continued for years until Dutch Morial's death in 1989. The guests were always asked to bring wild game, and Chase would prepare the dinner with creativity. Awards & Honors Restaurateur of the Year Award (2009) Weiss Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews Torch of Liberty from the B'nai B'rith University of New Orleans' Entrepreneurship Award Outstanding Woman Award from the National Council of Negro Women Lafcadio Hearn Award (2000) Chef John Folse Culinary Institute Hall of Honor Inductee (2000) Times-Picayune Loving Cup Award (1997) Louisiana NAACP A. P. Tureaud Award (1990) New Orleans Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Honor (1990) Included in "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America," a book by Brian Lanker and a traveling exhibition of photographs of seventy-five women (1989) National Candace Award for one of ten outstanding black women in America (1984) Memberships Founding Member, Southern Food Alliance UNICEF International Women's Forum United Negro College Fund New Orleans Arts Council Greater New Orleans Art Council New Orleans NAACP New Orleans Chapter of LINKS, Inc. Urban League of Greater New Orleans Girl Scout Council of Greater New Orleans Honorary Trustee for Life, New Orleans Museum of Art Loyola University, Community Advisory Council University of New Orleans, Community Advisory Council Louisiana Children's Museum 08/09
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