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Creole chef Leah Chase — who fed the reverend Martin Luther King Sr., Nat King Cole, and presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — died on June 1. Chef Chase died at the age of 96 at her son's home near her New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, according to The New York Times obituary.
The restaurant, the first upscale dining establishment for black patrons in the city, became a gathering place for civil rights leaders as they organized. "Mrs. Chase fed hungry Freedom Riders fresh off the road and hosted meetings of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People," the Times noted. "She let a young Thurgood Marshall use her telephone to call Robert F. Kennedy even when phoned-in lunch orders were pouring in."
Bravo's Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi paid tribute to the chef after her passing. Sharing a photo on Instagram of the pair together, Padma wrote: "Chef Leah Chase aka the Queen of Creole Cuisine was an institution. I had the pleasure of spending two days with Leah at her place, @dookychaseresteraunt and in the kitchen on @bravotopchef. She bounced #littlehands [Padma's daughter] on her knee during breaks and smiled that beaming smile of hers the whole time. She made everyone in the room feel warm and cozy just by her presence. Leah Chase is a treasure of our national history, a true American hero for her civil rights work and had great taste in art to boot. Rest In Peace"
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