His face won’t be forgotten – a visage equally sly and cheerful – with eyes that twinkled like a bayou Santa. Then there was the food. The late Chef Paul Prudhomme almost single-handedly launched the Cajun cooking craze in the early 1980s and, unlike most culinary fads, it hasn't abated. Nor does it show any signs of doing so anytime soon.
Unlike many of his fellow celebrity chefs, Paul Prudhomme didn’t barnstorm the world to promote himself. Nor did Chef Paul franchise his reputation. He only owned one restaurant, the modest K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen at 416 Chartres St. in the French Quarter. In that one modest facility he revolutionized the language and art of cooking, elevating American cuisine to levels only previously reserved for the haute cuisine of France and other nations of Europe.
One of 13 children, Chef Paul began cooking in his mother's kitchen in the Cajun country outside of Opalousas in south Louisiana. He honed his craft in the kitchen of world-renowned Commander's Palace before launching K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen named for him and his late wife Kay. The restaurant remains open today –a magnet for culinary connoisseurs from all over the world.
Chef Paul’s awards were many: the American Culinary Federation’s Culinarian of the Year and Culinary Diplomat, Louisiana’s Restaurateur of the Year, the first American-born chef to receive the coveted Merite-Agricole of the French Republic. He cooked at the White House for various heads of state. In 2012, Chef Paul was named one of the Pioneers of American Cuisine by the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He wrote 12 bestselling cookbooks and produced six cooking videos (two topped Billboard's chart for 53 consecutive weeks).
Prudhomme was featured on every major TV network and many other cable channels with widely viewed cooking shows or segments. He was written about and contributed to such prestigious publications as Bon Appetit, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, Time, Life, Playboy and many others.
Chef Paul died in 2015 and will forever be remembered in New Orleans and around the world for his incredible food, hospitality, and spirit.