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Obama gets takeout lunch from New Orleans top chef

October 15, 2009 |  9:59 am

Democrat Barack Obama stops at Dooky Chase, a legendary Creole restaurant in New Orleans, during the 2008 campaign
During the presidential campaign, Democrat Barack Obama accused George W. Bush of ignoring the pleas for help from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, leading a government that "sits on its hands while a major American city drowns." Today he made his first trip to the devastated region since becoming president. Before he even stepped down, locals were already accusing him of not doing enough.

Folks in Mississippi were upset that Obama did not visit them. "I'm greatly disappointed he's not coming to Mississippi," said Tommy Longo, mayor of Waveland, Miss., where few structures were undamaged by the hurricane. "There was no city hit harder than Waveland."

Folks in New Orleans were upset that Obama only spent four hours with them. "A town hall event and a mystery stop? That's it?" the Times-Picayune newspaper editorialized last week.

And the fabled restaurateurs of the French Quarter were kind of upset that the president didn't have time for a proper meal. Something about a town hall meeting and a visit to a school.

But, being more enterprising than their political counterparts, the foodies knew just what to do.

Contacting the White House (where presidential aide Desiree Rogers is a New Orleans native -- and two-time Zulu Queen), Leah Chase, the 86-year old chef and owner of the legendary Creole restaurant Dooky Chase, arranged for a takeout meal for the presidential party. Two Secret Service agents showed up Wednesday to talk to the restaurant about "secure" takeout packaging, whatever that means.

Chase wasn't surprised -- Bush had eaten at her restaurant, and so had candidate Obama, seen above.

So, if all goes well, as they wing toward San Francisco for a fundraiser, Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the others will be munching on gumbo, shrimp creole and fried chicken. 

Leah Chase isn't worried. The gumbo should be kept warm, she advised, but her fried chicken is just fine served cold.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo Credit: Associated Press.

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