Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leah Chase compares journalism to cooking

Chef Leah Chase on life, art and NOLA

Letters to the Editor 
I thank you for including me and our family restaurant, Dooky Chase, within the pages that celebrate the 175-year history of The Times-Picayune and Gustave Blache III's artistic rendering of me on the paper's Feb. 8 front page. You and I have in common many things.
Cutting Squash.jpgView full sizeThe National Gallery portrait of chef Leah Chase, ‘Cutting Squash,’ by Gustave Blache III.
I have always prepared my mind to read the world as it is, but visualize it as it could be, a magnificently beautiful place. A world that appreciates art appreciates the unlimited potential of humankind. I push every day in the culinary arts as you, too, do in professional journalism to achieve the highest professional and artistic potential. However, as in the world also in metropolitan New Orleans, a competition exists between negative cultural influences and positive family influences on our children and on our work effort that concerns us both.
Sometimes, frustration sets in, the frustration that comes with the feeling that we are not moving fast enough to change things for the better. Sitll, working hard, doing for others and daily prayers, just being positive about life and being alive to tell about it and see it unfold before our eyes, always wins out and keeps us going.
I love New Orleans. I love its openness and the diversity of its people who seemed to have in common with me a joy of just being alive. I love the intermingling of different races and ethnicities of people, the different languages (seldom the King's English) Creoles, Cajuns and others speak, and the fact that rich and poor do not separate themselves, that much, one from another. From my daily readings of The Times-Picayune, you seem throughout your history to like those things, too. However, both you and I are well aware of negative cultural influences that life in New Orleans does have on children. You work hard to portray that objectively and inspire us all to change and improve as I say, "by investing in the artistic excellence of people and in the education of neighborhood kids.''
Like you, I am determined to shelter children from all that is negative, yet to prepare them to deal with the real world and to develop in them a strong commitment to community, family and quality. The measure of our successes is not whether any of us (your editors, staff writers, workers and me) achieve fame or wealth in life, but whether we truly understand what it means to love and be part of one united family, one community striving to get better.
Over the years that each of us has been alive, your paper for over 175 years reporting history and me for nearly 90 just watching and reading about it, we each have come to realize that our rich cultural heritage is not focused at all on the price of things but on their artistic value.
I truly appreciate your professional reporting of Our Times, as we strive to grow and develop the New Orleans metropolitan area into that magnificently beautiful place we can one day become.
Leah Chase
New Orleans

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