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Civil rights chef immortalised as Disney princess - Chef Jobs News

Civil rights chef immortalised as Disney princess

7 Jul 2010

Leah Chase, a New Orleans chef, was the inspiration for the lead character in Disney's recent hit animation, The Princess And The Frog. Chase is a household-name in America and has cooked for several US presidents and Motown legends such as The Jackson Five, as well as appearing in Jamie Oliver's American Road Trip. Her character in the Disney film, Princess Tiana, is the first black Disney princess, which is particularly fitting in light of Chase's remarkable background and the vast changes in society that she has lived through.

Growing up in Louisiana in the 1920s, she lived in a world of racism, segregation and chauvinism, which, as she grew up, she managed to overcome by working in a kitchen, doing a job that she would not normally have been able to get as a woman, but was able to start when the men went to war.

She went on to run the kitchen in her husband Dooky's family restaurant, which became legendary as the likes of Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole visited, and was a central meeting place for many of the pioneers of the black civil rights movement.

The chef is surprised and delighted to have been the inspiration behind the Disney film, and stated: "if the idea that you can get something in life by working hard and doing things for yourself can get across to one little girl because of it, then I'll be a happy woman."


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