The trailblazing New Orleans chef who was also a TV pioneer

The trailblazing New Orleans chef who was also a TV pioneer

The Events-Picayune is marking the tricentennial of New Orleans with its ongoing 300 for 300 mission, working by way of 2018 and highlighting 300 people who’ve made New Orleans New Orleans, that features genuine artwork work commissioned by | The Events-Picayune with The place Y’Paintings gallery. Instantly: chef Lena Richard.

The icon: Lena Richard.

The legacy: Lena Richard was a lot of points: a chef, caterer, restaurant proprietor, frozen meals entrepreneur, cooking teacher, cookbook author. Most importantly, though, she was a trailblazer. A black woman rising up in Jim Crow New Orleans, she used her talents, smarts and sunbeam character to surmount the quite a few social hurdles of the day and grow to be a revered native chef, a worthwhile businesswoman and, most impressively, an space TV character, alongside together with her private pioneering cooking current airing twice weekly on WDSU in 1949 New Orleans. “She’s important because of she stepped out on the water when there was no guarantee it may keep her up,” meals historian Jessica B. Harris instructed the Chicago Tribune in 2015. “She was the first, a uncommon first.” It wasn’t prolonged sooner than people had been calling Richard considered one of many metropolis’s best black cooks. By the purpose she died, she was extensively regarded as the most effective, interval.

The artist: Queen Hope Parker.

The quote: “After I obtained means up there, I sure stumbled on in a rush that they may not educate me moderately greater than I already knew. I found just some little points about fancy desserts and salads and completely different points like that. Nevertheless regarding cooking meats, stews, soups, sauces and all the alternative points, these far-North people come down proper right here to eat. I have to say we Southern cooks have gotten all of them beat a mile. That isn’t boasting, it’s merely the truth.” — Lena Richard, in a 1939 interview with The New Orleans Merchandise

Uncover additional of Parker’s work on-line at WhereYart.internet and particularly particular person on the The place Y’Paintings gallery, 1901 Royal St.


She was born Lena Paul in New Roads, thought-about considered one of 10 children. Her starting date is unclear, nonetheless it is believed to be throughout the 1890s.
Her family in the end relocated to New Orleans, the place on the age of 14 she grew to turn into a house worker alongside her mother and grandmother on the Esplanade Avenue residence of the Vairin family, in step with
Her employer, Alice Vairin, acknowledged her experience throughout the kitchen and would allow her a break day each week to evaluate cookbooks and experiment throughout the kitchen. She would later ship the youthful Lena to native cooking schools and, in the end, to the Fannie Farmer Cooking School in Boston.
It was whereas on the Fannie Farmer that Richard decided to put in writing down her first cookbook. “I cooked a couple of my dishes, like Creole gumbo, daube, stuffed oysters, and an excellent outdated hen vole vent, and they also all wanted to see the best way it was carried out,” she acknowledged in a 1939 interview with The New Orleans Merchandise. “Very very first thing I knew, that that they had me contemplating I was one factor well-known. That’s after I made up my mind that someday I would write down the problems I make.”
She graduated from Fannie Farmer in 1918, in step with a 1946 story in The New Orleans Merchandise, and returned residence the place she opened a catering enterprise, labored at a cooking college, and, for seven years, cooked for the Orleans Membership, an space woman’s membership. Her stuffed oysters had been a favorite there, she acknowledged.
She married Percival Richard throughout the 1920s. They may have a daughter, who would develop as a lot as help Lena Richard run her catering enterprise.
By the late 1930s, she had made a status for herself, with newspapers referring to her as “the well-known” Lena Richard. By 1939, categorized commercials for her privately printed cookbook, titled merely “Lena Richard’s Cook dinner dinner E-book,” had been working in New Orleans newspapers. A yr later, Houghton Mifflin reissued it beneath the title “New Orleans Cook dinner dinner E-book.” It contained 333 recipes.
She left New Orleans for a short while to prepare dinner dinner for a New York inn, adopted by a stint on the Travis House, a restoration tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. She would shortly come once more residence.
By 1946, she was freezing and selling a couple of of her additional in fashion dishes, along with shrimp Creole, shrimp remoulade, turtle soup, gumbo file, okra gumbo and grillades, all cooked in a facility on Metairie Freeway. At residence in New Orleans, it was supplied in pints and quarts. Outside of New Orleans, it may be purchased in five- and 10-gallon batches.
In February 1949, she opened her private gumbo retailer at Louisiana Avenue and Danneel Highway. On opening night, 110 gallons of gumbo had been reportedly served.
It was spherical this time that her current debuted on the pioneering native station WDSU. Working 15 minutes and originating from the Municipal Auditorium, it was moreover titled “New Orleans Cook dinner dinner E-book.” No footage of the current is assumed to exist.
Lena Richard died Nov. 27, 1950, of a coronary coronary heart assault at her residence at 2710 Marengo St. Newspaper critiques gave her age variably as 51 or 53.

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