Culinary legend and matriarch of Dooky Chase restaurant, Leah Chase, has died. Chase spent more than 70 years in the kitchen at the New Orleans institution. She oversaw a massive transformation in the restaurant from a sandwich shop that primarily served black patrons to a culinary destination for diners of all backgrounds.

According to the Associated Press, Chase’s family released a statement to news outlets Saturday night saying the “unwavering advocate for civil liberties” and “believer in the Spirit of New Orleans” died surrounded by family.

“Her daily joy was not simply cooking, but preparing meals to bring people together,” the statement read. “One of her most prized contributions was advocating for the Civil Rights Movement through feeding those on the front lines of the struggle for human dignity.”

Leah Chase was an institution all her own in the culinary world- making friends with city leaders, local dignitaries and even U.S. Presidents. She was 96-years-old.


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