NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Ella Brennan, who played a major role in putting New Orleans on the world’s culinary map as matriarch of the restaurant Commander’s Palace, has died at age 92.
A statement emailed from the Commander’s Family of Restaurants says Brennan died Thursday with family and friends at her side. Her funeral will be private.
Although she couldn’t cook, Brennan was credited with creating nouvelle Creole cuisine. At Commander’s Palace, she cultivated chefs including Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.
Brennan dropped out of secretarial school to work full-time for her brother, restaurateur Owen Brennan, in the 1940s. She taught herself about the business, reading books and magazines and asking questions of everyone from farmers to cooks.
Lagasse called her one of the greatest restaurateurs he’s ever met.
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the death of renowned restaurateur Ella Brennan:
“Ella Brennan was an icon in the culinary industry, and she graciously shared her passion for New Orleans and our cuisine with the world,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “She was a trailblazer with a tenacious spirit who made it her mission to learn everything possible about the restaurant business from the ground up and as a result, she set a standard of excellence that was unmatched. Donna and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the Brennan family and friends. Ella’s legacy will live on throughout the state of Louisiana.”