/ The Disney Traveler
Disney — By Jenni Ingersoll on April 3, 2010 at 6:38 am
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Queen of Creole Cuisine the Real Princess Tiana?

In case you haven’t heard, there is a new Disney princess on the block.¬† Princess Tiana is the princess heroine in Disney’s The¬†Princess and the Frog.¬† A hard-working, kind, independent young woman, Tiana was not afraid to work¬†to achieve¬†her dream of opening a restaurant.¬† Marrying the Prince just added the icing on the cake.¬†

Watching the movie, we are introduced to the young Tiana, making promises to one day, own her own restaurant.  True to life, there are bumps in the road that delay this dream and we see Tiana as a hard working waitress in a cafe, still reaching for her dream, which she eventually attains.

A question has surfaced in the Sun-Sentinel, could the producers of this film have based the character, Tiana after real life New Orleans chef and restaurateur, Leah Chase?¬†¬† Chase, known as the Queen of Creole cuisine, admits to sitting down with the producers of the film several years ago, “to chat”.

It appears that the producers did “borrow” portions of the 87-year¬†old’s life when writing The Princess and the Frog.¬†¬†Leah, like Tiana, always wanted to run a restaurant, and like Tiana, her career began working¬†in a French Quarter restaurant the Colonial,¬†shortly after high school.

Leah married a musician, Edgar “Dooky”¬†Chase II, in 1945,¬†and began working in the family restaurant.¬† In time, Leah began changing the menu to add more and more of her famed creole dishes to the now legendary, Dooky Chase restaurant¬†(map).

So famous in fact, Chase is known internationally for her dishes, hosts a PBS program, Creole Cooking with Leah Chase, and has written three cookbooks.  Even President Obama stopped in for some Gumbo while on the campaign trail.

The New Orleans institution is no stranger to hosting  famous diners.  Opened in 1939, during the time of segregation, there were not a lot of restaurant options for Blacks.  Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway were all patrons.

Tragedy struck when the restaurant was flooded following Hurricane Katrina and was forced to close until repairs could be made.¬† Reopening first for carry-out only, Chase’s is back up and running in it’s glory. Like Tiana, this hard-working¬† grandmother of 16,¬†still works at least four hours a day in the restaurant.

What an incredible lesson both of these ladies share with young women today.

Photo Selection: Wikimedia Commons

Related places:
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    Dooky Chase Restaurant
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