in memoriam

Mardi Gras was still close to three weeks away. But on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 16, the French Quarter was gridlocked with costumed frolickers, a massive, glittery throng radiating out through the narrow streets from the historic traditional-jazz venue Preservation Hall. The occasion? A parade in memory of David Bowie, led by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen staff photo, 1981.
Courtesy of Frank Brigtsen

Chef Paul Prudhomme changed the American food world forever with his creative, exuberant love for Creole and Cajun food. He was the first American chef to take the reins at Commander's Palace — where the world first had a taste of his culinary genius. He pioneered the now commonplace farm-to-table movement, as he championed Louisiana's farmers and fishermen. As Ella Brennan said, “He had magic in his hands.”

Chef Prudhomme and Chef Frank Brigtsen, passing the skillet outside of Brigtsen's Restaurant, 1986.
Courtesy of Frank Brigtsen

As we reach the end of 2015, we're taking a look back at the triumphs and tragedies of the year past.

2015 was a big year for Louisiana Eats! This June, we celebrated our fifth anniversary on the air, with listeners and friends including the NPR affiliates WWNO, WRKF, KRVS and Red River Radio. We found ourselves traveling across the state, the country and the world, covering topics ranging from substance abuse in the service industry, revelry and tradition at the annual Blackpot Festival in Lafayette, ghosts in the attic at Tujague's Restaurant, seafood innovation on the Gulf Coast and the domestic slave trade in America.

This week, the 77-year-old New Orleans songwriter, producer and arranger Allen Toussaint died after a concert in Madrid. For most of his career, Toussaint preferred working behind the scenes, but our friend Gwen Thompkins met him at a time when he'd thrown himself into performing extensively around the world. Before they parted ways for what would be the last time, Toussaint gave Thompkins a gift: a demo recording of a song he never got to release, but said he wanted the world to hear.

Allen Toussaint.
MusicInsideOut.org

This week, we learned that Allen Toussaint died after performing at a concert Monday in Madrid. He was 77 years old. Toussaint had toured extensively since Hurricane Katrina, but he was, in many ways, a reluctant performer. He preferred his life behind the scenes in the studio — writing, producing, and arranging songs. A disciple of Professor Longhair, Toussaint seemed to understand what New Orleans music could do for the world.

"Man, in New Orleans we really are fortunate — we got some of the best things in the world," Chef Paul Prudhomme once said. "And one of those things is the muffuletta sandwich."

And one of the best things about New Orleans was Prudhomme himself.

He was known for introducing blackened redfish to the rest of us, for his cooking demos and for his line of magic spices. Needless to say, Prudhomme changed the way the world saw Louisiana cooking.

He has died at the age of 75.

Eileen Fleming / WWNO

Paul Prudhomme, the internationally-known New Orleans chef and restaurateur, has died. He was 75.

Prudhomme popularized Cajun and Creole cooking in the 1980’s. His death was confirmed by his restaurant, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, according to WWL-TV.

“Steven Vincent epitomized what it meant to be a Louisiana State Trooper. When you talk about courtesy, loyalty and service – that was him!” Louisiana State Police Commander Mike Edmonson said, his voice husky with unshed tears.

Senior Trooper Steven Vincent is being laid to rest tomorrow, following a noon mass at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church in Lake Charles. He was killed in the line of duty, after stopping to render assistance.


“His time in service at the Louisiana legislature was always about the wants and needs of the people he served,” says Representative Katrina Jackson, Chairman of Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus, of Representative Alfred C. Williams. 


Singer Percy Sledge, perhaps best known for his hit "When A Man Loves A Woman," has died, Artists International Management Inc., his talent agency, said.

Sledge died of natural causes a little after midnight at a hospice in East Baton Rouge, La., according to a coroner. The coroner said Sledge was 74, though the Encyclopedia of Music as well as his talent agency says Sledge was 73.

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