Austin Leslie was one of the great chefs of New Orleans. Regarded as the father of Creole-Soul fusion cuisine, his death in September of 2005 following the events that destroyed his restaurant, Pampy’s (which was owned by former Marc Morial security advisor Pampy Barré) is a tragedy that has effects that will no doubt be felt for a long time to come.
I miss Austin greatly, and it fills me with tremendous sadness knowing that I will never have his cuisine ever again. I still remember what I now call “The Last Supper” that Rachel, Brooks Hamaker and I had at Pampy’s in late May of 2005, only two months before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and took away many of our beloved culinary landmarks in that city. Commander’s, Brennans, Dooky Chase and even Willie Mae’s Scotch House will no doubt be rebuilt, and the traditions at those places will continue on, but Austin and his cuisine will never be seen the likes of again.
Jason Clevenger, son of Upperline Restaurant owner JoAnn Clevenger (click for Podcast) has started a memorial bio page on Wikipedia chronicling Austin’s achievements. If you remember Austin and his food, please feel free to contribute.