Why You Should Know the Name Paul Prudhomme

October , 2015
By: Daniela Galarza, Eater Nola

Paul Prudhomme, the chef who popularized modern Cajun and Creole cuisine in New Orleans and across the country, has died at the age of 75. Prudhomme's name may not have made it as far and wide as Wolfgang Puck's, but the two chefs share the distinction of being the first-ever celebrity chefs in the United States.

Prior to 1970, Prudhomme — who also went by the name Gene Autry Prudhomme — bounced around kitchens in Colorado after a failed stint as the owner of a burger restaurant called Big Daddy-O's. When in the late 1960s he realized the cooking of his mother and grandmother was not known outside of the South, he moved back to his home town and landed a job as the first American chef to run the kitchen at Commander's Palace, New Orleans's fine-dining mainstay.

"Paul was a beautiful, selfless man who shared our culture, hospitality, generosity and certainly our delicious food with the entire world. I met Chef Paul when I was 11 years old and knew that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He selflessly passed his television show onto me with the directions to continue to share our great cuisine and culture with the world. He also carved the way for chefs to break out of the kitchen, into entrepreneurship, and called each of us to follow his example. We are all indebted to him and his leadership."~Chef John Besh