Lena Richard

I believe that the food found in New Orleans, Louisiana, is some of the most exquisite-tasting food you’ll ever have the pleasure of eating.

One woman was famous for sharing her recipes for Louisiana’s most popular Creole dishes and made history along the way.

Lena Richard was a chef, restaurateur, and television personality best known for her delicious Creole cooking and was considered the “Martha Stewart of New Orleans.”

Born in Louisiana in 1892, Lena began her journey with food by assisting her mother and aunt in the kitchen while they worked as domestic help for the wealthy Vairin family in New Orleans.

The lady of the household, Alice Vairin, noticed how talented young Lena was in the kitchen and would let her cook on her own for the family once a week. 

Once she graduated high school, the Vairins decided to hire Lena as a full-time cook and even sent her off to study at the well-known Fannie Farmer cooking school in Boston. She was the only black woman learning there at the time.

She became a valuable peer in her classes, with many other students seeking her help with some classic Southern dishes. 

In 1914, she married Percival Richard, and they had a daughter named Marie. When she returned to New Orleans at 26 in 1918, she opened her own catering business. 

Lena started becoming quite successful and opened other cooking-related businesses, including a cooking school she opened with her daughter in New Orleans in 1937. It was an especially safe space for black students, training them to be prepared to try and make a name for themselves in such a prejudiced world. 


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