Leah Chase has been lauded as a keeper of the flame of Creole cooking, and never more so than after Hurricane Katrina when all of the city's indigenous food traditions seemed so threatened.
Fortunately, Chase's living legacy is still in practice at her restaurant, Dooky Chase, and it has also been well documented in a series of books compiling her recipes and stories from the Creole kitchen.
Next week, an audio version of her biography "Listen, I Say Like This" will be broadcast on WRBH 88.3 FM, the nonprofit "reading radio" for the blind and print handicapped.
Chase will read a segment of her biography each weekday next week, beginning on Monday, Oct. 20, at 9 a.m., repeating at 9 p.m., and continuing at the same time each morning and night through Friday. WRBH provides streaming broadcasts all of its shows, in real time, so those outside the New Orleans station's range can hear Chase online.
Anytime you have the chance to hear this remarkable woman talk about food is an invaluable learning opportunity, as chef and TV personality Bobby Flay experienced for himself last spring while in New Orleans to tape an episode for his Food Network series. In the photo above, Chase (left) is giving Flay (right) a few pointers on making gumbo. One of her rules of thumb: she knows her roux is ready when its color matches that of her own skin. That's not a particularly helpful rule for everyone else to follow, and certainly not the fair Flay, but I still feel my experience with New Orleans cooking is a little richer having heard her explain it.
-- Ian McNulty