“… a legend, an icon and an inspiration.  It is impossible to overstate what she meant to our city and to our community.  At Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, she made Creole cuisine the cultural force that it is today, she made a family-owned sandwich shop into one of the first African-American fine dining restaurants in the country, and she made history – with Dooky’s serving as a cradle and a hot spot for the civil rights movement.”

~ LaToya Cantrell, mayor of New Orleans

On January 6, 1923 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Charles and Hortensia Lange welcomed into their lives a baby girl; she was named Leyah.  The Lange couple was Creole, comprised of African, French and Spanish descent.  There are various sources that report different numbers of siblings and her birth order but according to the African American Chefs Hall of Fame, she was the oldest of fourteen children.  Also, the spelling of her name at some point is abbreviated from Leyah to “Leah”. 

Charles was a caulker for different shipyards and Hortensia was a homemaker.  When Leah was very young, the Lange family moved to Madisonville, a small town situated on the Tchefuncte River.  Known for shipping and constructing boats, it was an opportunity for Charles to gain greater opportunities for employment.

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