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National Restaurant Association - Prudhomme, pioneer of Louisiana cooking, dies at 75

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Prudhomme, pioneer of Louisiana cooking, dies at 75

The National Restaurant Association expressed its sympathy following the death of legendary chef-Paul Prudhomme.

The renowned chef died Oct. 8 after a brief illness. He was 75.

“Chef Prudhomme was a culinary visionary and mentor to so many in our industry,” said NRA president and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “As one of the first true celebrity chefs, he brought New Orleans cuisine to the forefront of American culture. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.”

Prudhomme made Creole and Cajun cuisine famous the world over. His restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, a mainstay in New Orleans’ French Quarter for nearly 40 years, not only launched the craze for Louisiana cooking, it also helped turn the city into a bonafide dining destination. He also was one of the first restaurant chefs to create a successful retail empire, Magic Seasoning Blends, a foods business specializing in spices that enabled home cooks to recreate his style of cuisine.

The chef grew up in a large, poor Cajun family. He began his rise to fame in the mid-1970s, when he was hired by Dick and Ella Brennan as executive chef of their famed Commander’s Palace restaurant in New Orleans. He achieved his greatest successes during the 1980s, authoring cookbooks and making various television appearances.

Restaurateur and former NRA chairman Ralph Brennan said he was saddened to hear of Prudhomme’s death, and expressed his admiration for him.

“Paul was a pioneer, and his passing is a tragic loss not only to New Orleans, but to the country and the world,” he said. “He brought attention to the food and culture of our city and state.”

Brennan also recalled Prudhomme’s generosity, saying, “He was a warm and welcoming friend to so many, and was one of the key chefs and restaurateurs integral to the reopening and rebuilding of our beloved city after Hurricane Katrina. He even extended his gracious hospitality to his staff by providing housing to those who’d lost their homes.”

The restaurateur added he would always remember seeing Prudhomme sitting in front of K-Paul’s, with a jazz band swinging by his side, welcoming passersby back to the French Quarter.

“There will never be another like him,” he said.

Prudhomme is survived by his wife, Lori. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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