Ella Brennan, Beloved Restaurateur, Dies at Age 92
The iconic Commander’s Palace sign has gone dark today in her honor.
There is very sad news out of the Crescent City today. Ella Brennan, the matriarch of New Orleans’ most prominent restaurant families died Thursday at the age of 92.
The family said in a statement that she died in her Garden District home, with family and friends by her side. The funeral will be private.
But anyone who knows New Orleans cuisine will surely be mourning along with the family this week. Although Brennan herself was not a cook, she is largely responsible for putting New Orleans on the culinary map and for popularizing the nouvelle Creole cuisine that causes locals and tourists alike to flock to the doors of Commander’s Palace in droves.
Brennan was a native New Orleanian and dedicated her life to showcasing the food and culture of her city and to making the rest of the world fall in love with the flavors she held so dear.
She did so and was wildly successful in a world dominated by men.
On news of her passing, the family paid tribute to Brennan’s accomplishments.
"The impact that Miss Ella had on New Orleans is immeasurable. She broke every boundary that she came up against, opening restaurants during a time when female ownership was unprecedented, and fostered an incredible sense of community in each kitchen and dining room that she touched.”
It’s incredibly fitting that when she retired, her daughter, Ti Adelaide Martin, and niece, Lally Brennan, took over the helm and continue to run their empire of restaurants (which includes 14 establishments) to this day.
WATCH: The South's Best Restaurant: Commander's Palace
Brennan passionately learned all she could about all aspects of the restaurant business by reading, spending hours and hours in kitchens and asking questions. She knew that the key to making a great restaurant wasn’t just in the food on the plate, it was about creating an unforgettable experience. On weekends, jazz bands play for delighted diners. In her memoir, Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace, Brennan said “I don’t want a restaurant where a jazz band can’t come marching through.”
Brennan is also responsible for introducing the world to such renowned chefs as Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme.
In honor of Brennan’s legacy, the restaurant will remain open but the iconic Commander’s Palace sign has gone dark today. We offer our deepest condolences to her friends and family.