In Memoriam: Leah Chase
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life and legacy of Leah Chase with a painting by Gustave Blache III.
Chase (1923–2019), dubbed the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” was a restauranteur and world-renowned chef who championed civil rights. In 1945, after marrying jazz musician Edgar “Dooky” Chase Jr., she joined the family restaurant business in New Orleans. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant became a gathering spot for Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent civil rights activists who held strategy sessions there in the 1960s.
The artist Blache, who often depicts people at work, documented Chase in the kitchen for a series of portraits. The oil-on-panel likeness was created in 2010 and was later gifted to the Portrait Gallery by the artist.