Our final day finishes with a trip to the Dooky Chase Restaurant where Chef Leah Chase will share her famous Gumbo des Herbes that she customarily makes on Holy Thursday. Among those who have dined with Chef Leah Chase are President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, Hank Aaron, Earnest Gaines and Quincy Jones. Dooky’s is the premier restaurant for authentic Creole cuisine and remains a gathering place for Politicians, musicians, visual artists and literary giants.
I have had the privilege of documenting several living legends but spending time with Chef Leah Chase will go down as one of the highlights of my career. There are times when covering someone with such a rich history, that you almost forget to shoot, or maybe you forget that you are shooting because you are so enthralled in the moment. For me, listening to Leah Chase’s stories and also watching the reverence that this celebrated group bestowed on Chef Chase, was one of those times.
Conversation with “little John Kennedy” about segregation and integration of schools …
“God gave you this earth.
He put you here.
Do what you want to do.
But he wants you to make it move.”
Chef Leah Chase
In 2005 Dooky’s didn’t stand a chance against Katrina. 5 ½ feet of water flooded the restaurant and everything was lost. Family, friends and several of the chefs that Leah had mentored helped and Dooky’s was reopened in 2007.
… just have faith and do what you have to do…just put your heart into it.”
Cracklins are fried pieces of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin …
There is a brief moment when the intensity in a person’s eyes makes a significant portrait. One of the workers at the Poche’s Market allowed me to take this quick photo during a brief break from the steaming hot work environment.
Above (L to R): Boudin (a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings); Mr. Floyd Poche'(the owner of the market);Prep for Boudin; Alligator;
It’s Gator Season in Louisiana and we are heading to Riceland Crawfish (above) to see how the gators are cleaned, skinned and processed.
And this is why I love what I do … every day is different. One day I’m photographing the leader of the free world and the next …. Well you get the picture.
Above shows the crawfish cages and the “beer bottle” method to make the indentation in the cage.
an expert on Louisiana history, leads our trip to the first stop at Tony’s Seafood. He explains that before the civil rights movement, dining while traveling by train was a challenge for black people. Although white train passengers were served in dining cars, Jim Crow laws barred black passengers. Thus, the shoe box lunch, a meal in a box packed before boarding, became common for traveling black families.
So a side note on the “skinning of the fish” shot, I didn’t just take this once, No — I had the stomach clenching opportunity to document this activity twice – so close you could smell it and step in the slick surface from the operation. And, that is because I smiled … yes there are times when a smile is not the answer and this was one of those times. It was very noisy at Tony’s Seafood, with orders being placed, and people everywhere and the motors in the refrigerators humming loudly. When this very proud fishmonger asked me something, as my stomach was turning over from the first episode of “how to clean a fish” … I just smiled because I couldn’t hear him and I was trying desperately not to throw up … and then voila’ before I knew what was happening … another fish, another hook, the knife and well you get the idea … No More Smiling!!!