There’s no mama bigger than 93-year-old chef Leah Chase in Beyonce’s video “Lemonade,” which recently premiered on HBO. The video features tennis star Serena Williams, child actor Quvenzhane Wallis, ballerina Michaela DePrince, among others, but the lady who stole the show for foodies was chef Chase.
Chase, whose New Orleans restaurant Dooky Chase has been patronised by the likes of jazz legend Duke Ellington, soul star Ray Charles, pop icon Quincy Jones and American president Barack Obama, is famous for her gumbo, shrimp creole and fried chicken. Seen seated in the video on a high-backed chair, Chase looks the part of the queen of creole cuisine. Chase was feted earlier this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the James Beard Awards, honouring excellence in cuisine, culinary writing and education.
Check out the trailer for Lemonade below
The creole culinary tradition, which has its roots in Louisiana and dates back to the 1800s, is a blend of French, African and Spanish cuisines. Creole kitchens are known for dishes such as salads with collard greens, spiced cashewnuts and coconut dressing, creole shrimp, which is also a stew or bouillabaisse preparation, red beans and gumbo, which is a thick stew made with okra and chicken or veal or ham. Seafood gumbos are made with crabs, shrimp and oysters, and served with rice.
There’s a great story about gumbo that Chase loves to share. When Obama was not yet the President, he visited her restaurant, and ordered the gumbo, and added hot sauce to it. Chase promptly admonished him with a rap on the hand, only to have him protest like a little school boy: “But I like hot sauce.”