THE ICON: Austin Leslie
THE LEGACY: In 1987, Chef Austin Leslie went prime-time thanks to the critically acclaimed but short-lived NBC sitcom “Frank Place,” for which he — and his New Orleans restaurant, Chez Helene — served as inspiration. But he was a star in New Orleans long before that, recognized as much for his singular style — highlighted by mutton chop sideburns and an always-present captain’s hat — as he was for the Creole-informed soul food that came out of his kitchen. Considered “the black analogue to Paul Prudhomme,” the personable Leslie and his cooking doubled as a rich, mouth-watering testament to the link between New Orleans cuisine and African-American culinary traditions. Just as important: It was simply delicious, a New Orleans original — just like Leslie.
THE ARTIST: Alexandra Kilburn, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “It was just good old Creole food, good old-time New Orleans food. And he was good, damn good. You couldn’t fry a chicken better than Austin. You couldn’t stuff a pepper better than Austin Leslie.” — Leah Chase, in 2005