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Historic NOLA Family Brings ‘Dooky Chase’ Seasonings To Tiana’s Bayou at Disney World

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by Veracity Savant

June 17, 2024

It’s the first time ever that the legendary restaurant will sell its seasonings outside of New Orleans!

In a historic move, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, a New Orleans institution for over eight decades, will sell its signature seasonings for the first time outside the beloved eatery. This exciting announcement coincides with the grand opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new ride at Walt Disney World inspired by Disney’s first Black princess, Tiana. The ride pays homage to the legacy of matriarch Leah Chase, the restaurant’s co-owner and the real-life inspiration for the character. 

Mrs. Chase was able to see her story come to life in Disney’s 2009 “Princess and the Frog” animated film but passed away in 2019 before she could see the next phase of Princess Tiana’s story. In 2020, Disney began working with the Chase family on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new attraction at Walt Disney World that continues the story. Over the last four years, the beloved N’awlins family has been integral in helping ensure the accuracy of their family’s history at the attraction and incorporating the values of Mrs. Leah Chase at every turn. 

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Stella Chase Reese, Leah’s daughter, got emotional during an opening night ceremony for a preview of the attraction. She reflected on the journey and what it meant for her mother’s legacy. 

“Disney, we want to thank you for looking at New Orleans, for selecting us, and most importantly, for selecting the Chase family to continue my mother’s story. She was a person who believed in unity. My mother’s values of entrepreneurship, faith, love of all people, and appreciation of who you are, your values and your culture can live on for many years. So thank you. We can’t thank you enough.”

With the ride set to open this month, The Chase family is ecstatic at the opportunity to ensure their family’s legacy continues for generations to come. To celebrate the momentous occasion, the Chase Family announced that they will now sell their signature seasonings at Disney World. For the first time in eight decades, since Dooky Chase restaurant opened its doors, the seasonings will be sold outside of the New Orleans restaurant. Now, attendees can head on down to Tiana’s Bayou and get a taste of the famous “Queen of Creole Cuisine’s” signature spices located at the gift shop outside the attraction. 

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“It’s huge. It’s been amazing,” Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, Leah Chase’s grandson, told Because Of Them We Can about the announcement. “My grandmother would be very grateful and humble, but she would always say, ‘she’d have to work ten more years for this honor,’ because she understood not only the importance of her love for food but also the importance of her love for community.” 

The Chase family, which has owned and operated Dooky Chase’s since its inception in 1941, is thrilled to share its culinary heritage with a much wider audience. For more than 80 years, Dooky Chase’s has been a vibrant hub in New Orleans. The restaurant served delicious Creole cuisine and became a safe space for African Americans during segregation, doubling as a meeting place for civil rights activism, community, and cultural exchange. 

“They would always step up to lead the charge whenever there was a need. Just like Tiana, my family was taught to dig a little deeper and find out who you are. But also know the importance of living and the law of humanity. We understood that people and the connectedness is what makes us better,” added Dook. 

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The restaurant began as a sandwich spot and lottery ticket outlet in New Orleans’ famed Treme neighborhood during a time that was particularly challenging for African Americans. To cement themselves as a staple in the community, the Chase family focused on being whatever they needed to be, growing into a bustling bar and respected family restaurant that often transformed into a check-cashing place, event space, etc. 

“Still, to this day, someone will say, ‘I celebrated my prom here. My first date was here.’ Our grandparents and great-grandparents were embedded in the community…There were so many things that the community needed, and they tried to be that place. It was about how we can help the community when no one else is,” said Myla Reese Poree, granddaughter of Leah Chase.

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Now, they’re extending that spirit of community to the most magical place on earth, set to sale at Walt Disney World just shy of the Juneteenth holiday.

“We are celebrating 83 years. We only got there because of community support. And that’s what my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents know, and we know. As our community gets better, we get better. There’s no choice,” explained Dook. 

The family can’t wait for Walt Disney World to taste their legendary seasonings. The Bayou Adventure shop will offer four signature spices: meat seasoning, seafood spice, fried chicken seasoning, and a signature gumbo base. 

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They hope a little taste of NOLA adds excitement to the opening of the new attraction. And even with June 28th fast approaching, more work must be done. In addition to the attraction opening, the family is also looking to reopen the restaurant’s historic “upper room,” a regular meeting place for civil rights leaders. They are also continuing their Dooky Chase Foundation work, supporting local artists and businesses with grants that work across one of the foundation’s four pillars: education, cultural arts, culinary arts, and social justice. 

“We are going to need the magic of Disney to pull it off,” Stella Chase Reese joked. “This room was one of the places where Martin Luther King and other leaders met. It is our plan to reopen that…[And with the foundation, we] help educate the people in our community to make sure that when the doors are open, they can go through, they have the education, [the funds], the knowledge, the ability to go and to really be able to do anything they want…We can’t ever forget our great people who make New Orleans what it is today,” she added. 

The Chase family sees their partnership with Disney and the sale of their seasonings as a way to continue Leah Chase’s lifelong dedication to community building and celebrating their family’s legacy. Dooky Chase Restaurant seasonings will be available at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Critter Co-Op at Walt Disney World starting June 28th!

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Cover photo: Historic NOLA Family Brings ‘Dooky Chase’ Seasonings To Tiana’s Bayou at Disney World/(l to r) Myla Reese Poree & Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, grandchildren of late matriarch Leah Chase, co-founder of Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans | June 10, 2024 at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Walt Disney World/Photo Credit: Veracity Savant/Because Of Them We Can

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