Paul Prudhomme, the American celebrity chef known for his love of Cajun and Creole cuisine, has died at the age of 75 after a short illness.
In 1975, Prudhomme gained prominence as the executive chef of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, helping the restaurant establish its place amongst the most recognizable fine dining restaurants in the United States. In 1979, when Prudhomme opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, named after the chef and his wife, Kay Prudhomme, he hired a then-unknown Emeril Lagasse to take over as the chef at Commander’s Palace.
At K-Paul’s, the chef’s signature dish of blackened redfish became so popular that, as other restaurants began to incorporate the dish, commercial fishing of the redfish was restricted in order to save the species from extinction.
In 1983, the Louisiana State Restaurant Association named Prudhomme Restaurateur of the Year. Three years later, he was awarded Culinarian of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. The restaurant remains one of the city’s most notable sentinels of New Orleans cuisine, and a thriving tourist destination.
Prudhomme has appeared on a number of public access cooking shows for PBS in New Orleans and is the author of several cookbooks about Louisiana cuisine, including the enduring 1984 classic Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. His line of signature spices, Chef Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blends, is sold throughout the United States and in more than 30 countries. Perhaps the chef’s most interesting credit, however, is the turducken, the nesting doll-style holiday dish whose creation has been attributed to Prudhomme.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the quintessential New Orleans chef and his team cooked more than 6,000 meals in 10 days for members of the military and displaced New Orleans residents.