On March 12, Loyola University New Orleans will host a panel to honor female culinary entrepreneurs and discuss the triumphs and challenges of women in New Orleans’ restaurant industry. The panel, deemed “Open Kitchens: Women Chefs Changing the New Orleans Food Scene,” will honor two giants in the culinary world, whose talent surpasses even beyond the Gulf Coast: Leah Chase and Ella Brennan.
Both Brennan’s Commander’s Palace and Chase’s Dooky Chase’s have been New Orleans standstills for decades.
In addition to the anticipated panel, The Center for the Study of New Orleans and Women’s Resource Center at Loyola announce their joint initiative to raise two scholarships, one named for Leah Chase and one named for Ella Brennan, who have both received honorary degrees from Loyola for their character and contributions to New Orleans culture and the national culinary scene. These prestigious acknowledgements simply add to their many other accolades in the field.
“Through their trailblazing careers and civic engagement, these women exhibited the sort of perseverance, leadership, and excellence that make them a treasure to our city,” said Justin Nystrom, director of the Center for the Study of New Orleans and associate professor of history at Loyola University New Orleans. Nystrom has documented the triumphs of these immensely talented women throughout the series behind Loyola’s Documentary and Oral History Studio.
Mary Sonnier of Gabrielle Restaurant will moderate the panel, which includes Kristen Essig of Coquette, Sylvain’s Martha Wiggins and Kelly Fields of Willa Jean. The panel is at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall in Loyola’s Communications and Music Complex (6363 St. Charles Ave). Admission is free.