Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Remembering Leah Chase

Sunday, June 02, 2019


“On that stove I cooked for Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and Thurgood Marshall” Leah Chase told us while pointing to the stove, tragically covered in thick black mud and sludge in her iconic New Orleans restaurant in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina. It is one of my most vivid memories of her. Chef and civil rights and social justice champion, Leah Chase died over the weekend at 96.  Thanks to Share Our Strength, her stove did not stay covered in mud for long.

As part of our commitment to bearing witness, Chuck Scofield, Amy Zganjar, and Ashley Graham led our colleagues in planning numerous trips to New Orleans in the months and years after the destruction wrought by Katrina.  One such trip was designed for the board of the Timberland boot company on which I served.  It was that day that Mrs. Chase showed us the stove and I’ll never forget my Timberland board colleague Ken Lombard walking out to the van, getting out his phone, and calling Starbucks and the NAACP and raising $175,000 to help finish cleaning, restoring, and re-opening the restaurant.

Her obituary, which references this, will better acquaint you with Leah Chase as a remarkable and inspirational culinary and social change legend.