Path 27

Creole cuisine queen Leah Chase gets New Orleans sendoff

Path 27

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For celebrated Creole chef Leah Chase, the goodbye had all the ingredients of a typical New Orleans sendoff: warm reminiscences and mourning mixed with a Mardi Gras-style celebration of her life.

Fellow chefs, musicians, family and friends were among hundreds who filed through a New Orleans church on Monday to pay last respects to Leah Chase, who ran a family restaurant where civil rights strategies were discussed over gumbo and fried chicken in the 1950s and ’60s. She died June 1 at age 96 .

The rosary and funeral Mass at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church was marked by spirited gospel from the choir and a soulful rendition of “Peace in the Valley” from longtime New Orleans musician and singer Deacon John.

“Today is Leah’s last freedom ride,” said her son Edgar.

Afterward, a brass band, pallbearers and members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club slow-walked beside her hearse as it drove the few blocks to Dooky Chase’s restaurant — her last trip to the place where she earned renown as a chef, civil rights icon and patron of the arts.

Trending:
Maskless GOP Rep Tells Pelosi to 'Come and Get Me' as Capitol Police Are Ordered to Arrest Those Who Don't Comply with Mandate

Dirges gave way to an upbeat “I’ll Fly Away” and, as the procession approached, vendors sold snacks, water, beer and cocktails from streetside trailers or ice chests on wagons.

Before the funeral, Ti Martin, co-proprietor of Commander’s Palace restaurant and a member of New Orleans’ famed Brennan family of restaurateurs, stood in a line that snaked around the block. She was among a diverse crowd that included politicians, notable chefs and musicians, including Marsalis family patriarch Ellis Marsalis.

“I don’t know if God realizes he’s about to gain 20 pounds,” Martin joked, “I can count on one hand the number of people who inspire me as much as this lady. And I wouldn’t need all my fingers.”

“I started eating in the restaurant in the ’60s when I was a little kid,” recalled Jonathan Bloom of New Orleans, who said his mother was a friend of Leah Chase.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell said he met and learned from an older generation of politicians while sitting at Dooky Chase’s — and heard a multitude of stories. “It took very little to prompt her to go into very lengthy stories about all the different people,” Morrell recalled. “She remembered and shook hands with every single person that came through her restaurant.”

“It’s impossible to overstate what she meant to our city,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said during a rosary service ahead of a midday Mass.

The mournful-turned-festive march to Dooky Chase’s was followed by a motorcade to a local cemetery. After that, there was to be a traditional New Orleans “second line” parade — with watchers falling in behind the procession — to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Monday’s was the last in a series of goodbyes to Chase. A brass band led a parade by the restaurant last Monday, and a public memorial was held at Xavier University on Saturday.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Path 27
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation