WATCH: How chef Leah Chase inspired Marcus Samuelsson

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Published on 4 Dec 2020, 22:14
In Marcus Samuelsson’s new cookbook, the chef pays tribute to Black women who have been the “backbone of American food.”

Among the restaurateurs he names is Leah Chase, the culinary legend whose famed Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans opened in the 1940s, at a time when the city’s segregation laws made it illegal for Black and white customers to dine together. The restaurant, which she helmed with her husband Edgar “Dooky” Chase II, also became a meeting place for civil rights leaders and their allies -- and later, fed creole cooking to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Chase also wanted to offer Black customers a spot to not only enjoy the foods they loved -- that famous gumbo, chicken Creole with jambalaya, among other dishes -- but to provide an “elegant, dignified experience of enjoying good food and company. A little panache,” Samuelsson writes in “The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food”.

“Dooky wasn't just about the food,” he told the PBS NewsHour.

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