Tribute to Chef Leah Chase


November’s tribute is to chef Leah Chase. This beautiful woman is out of New Orleans and is known as the QUEEN of Creole cooking. Chef Chase has been cooking most of her life and one of her first cooking jobs was at the famous French Quarters in New Orleans. She was a huge part of the civil rights movement being that her restaurant “Dooky Chase” was a meeting spot for many who participated in the movement. She authored many cookbooks and even hosted a cooking show based on creole cooking. She was the inspiration for Tiana’s character in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog; -Her many awards and honors include being inducted into the James Beard Foundation; Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2010. She was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2000. She even received honorary degrees from Tulane University, Dillard University, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Madonna College, Loyola, University New Orleans, and Johnson & Wales University. She was also awarded Times-Picayune Loving Cup Award in 1997. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana named a permanent gallery in Chase’s honor in 2009. This lady has accomplished so many feats that she even has an exhibition dedicated to her in the Smithsonian Museum. All of these accomplishments are just to name a few.


This Chef is truly inspiring. I am fascinated by her recipe for scalloped tomatoes:


3 tablespoons of bacon fat
2 cups (1/2-inch diced)
French bread, preferably a crusty baguette
16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice, about 2 1/2 pounds (use the best tomatoes you can find — beefsteak will be juicier
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the bacon fat in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned. Add the tomatoes, garlic and sugar to then pan and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the basil and remove from the heat.Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.


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