THE ICON: Paul Prudhomme
THE LEGACY: When you get right down to it, the evolution of Cajun cuisine can be cleaved neatly into two eras. There was the period before 1980, in which it was little more than a regional culinary curiosity, south Louisiana’s spicy little secret. And then there’s the period after Paul Prudhomme ignited a global Cajun food craze. His introduction of blackened redfish at his revered French Quarter restaurant, K-Paul’s, is his masterstroke, but his subsequent decades of culinary invention and inspiration — to say nothing of his charismatic proselytizing on the art of Cajun cooking for local and national audiences alike — are every bit as important to his legacy as the single-most important chef in modern Louisiana history.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I think that Paul Prudhomme has had the greatest influence on American cooking, in cultivating the public interest in American food, of anybody I know.” — Food writer Craig Claiborne of The New York Times