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The art of cooking with Leah Chase and Gustave Blache III at NOMA

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The art of cooking with Leah Chase and Gustave Blache III at NOMA Gustave Blache III
On Monday evening upon entering the Great Hall of the New Orleans Museum of Art, a buzzing crowd surrounded a New Orleans legend. Hundreds of friends, family, fans, and art lovers alike gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Chef Leah Chase, a New Orleanian like no other.    
Amongst music, food (which she provided not surprisingly) drinks, and friends, both old and new, as well as an exquisite art exhibit of her in her legendary restaurant Dooky Chase by native New Orleanian Gustave Blache III, Chef Chase stood at the center of the Great Hall meeting, greeting, and welcoming all those who turned out for the dual purpose of celebrating her 90th birthday and establishing the Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund to acquire African American art work for the museum.
The series of paintings, Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III, “captures Chef Chase at work in the kitchen of her restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, and provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the restaurant business, depicting her stirring culinary concoctions, ordering supplies, and greeting restaurant guests.”
While Chef Chase’s expertise is obvious in her cooking, she is nonetheless a tireless advocate of the art community, in particular African American artists. In fact, the walls of Dooky Chase are lined with some of the best African-American art in the country. One attendee, Dick McCarthy shared, “My mother, Justine McCarthy, and father, Richard McCarthy, were major supporters and encouragers of Leah’s entry into the art community. My mother died in 1995, but she is looking down on this right now and saying, ‘Leah, it’s about time you got recognized!’”
Surely, Chef Chase is a New Orleans original who has contributed to our community across the span of decades and generations. From providing a meeting place during the Civil Rights Movement to producing local music and being a frequent shopper at local farmer markets, she has touched the lives of countless New Orleanians, Americans, and foreigners alike. And all those lucky enough to have been graced by her presence are surely better because of it.
During the presentation, a white chair sat in front of Chef Chase as she stood beside the podium with each speaker as they honored her. She was offered to sit at least twice and each time, she raised a gentle hand of refusal opting to stand along with all of the attendees that filled the Great Hall, lined the stairs, and surrounded the second floor balcony. It was as if the entire crowd quietly agreed to give her a standing ovation during the entirety of the program.
And before the evening’s end, the Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund raised $100,000. Congratulations to Chef another decade of loving New Orleans!

WHAT: Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III
WHEN: April 24 – Sept. 9
WHERE: New Orleans Museum of Art

{gallery}events/spotlights/leah chase1{/gallery}
Last modified on Wednesday, 25 April 2012
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