NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The "Queen of Creole Cuisine" will receive a high honor. The James Beard Foundation announced she is this year's choice for the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Leah Chase broke New Orleans' segregation laws decades ago by serving white and black customers at her family's restaurant, Dooky Chase's. Her restaurant also served as a meeting place where mixed race groups could discuss strategy for the local Civil Rights Movement.
She offered upscale, white tablecloth dining experience at a time when none existed for African-Americans in New Orleans.
Leah Chase's jambalaya, gumbo and fried chicken have introduced countless people to Creole cooking.
"I'm still in the kitchen because I love it in here. This is my life. I love it. My kitchen makes so many people happy. I'm a people person. If I'm going to work with people, I'm going to work out of this kitchen," Chase recently told FOX 8.
The James Beard Foundation described Chase as a patron of the arts. Diners will see her art collection displayed on the wall of Dooky Chase's. It was at one time considered the city's best collection of African-American art.
Leah Chase, who recently celebrated her 93rd birthday, will accept her Beard medallion at the James Beard Awards on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Illinois.
Also being honored that night is Father Greg Boyle, S.J. He will receive the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award.