Ella Brennan

Courtesy Jerry Siegel/Commander's Palace

Ella Brennan, famed New Orleans restaurateur, dies

June 01, 2018 - 10:42 am
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By Devon M. Sayers and Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) —  Ella Brennan, the famed New Orleans restaurateur known for building Commander's Palace into a world-renowned restaurant, has died, according to a post on the restaurant's Facebook page.

Brennan was 92 years old.

Commander's Palace posted on its Facebook page: "We are very sorry to share that our beloved Miss Ella passed away this morning. Thank you for keeping our family in your thoughts."

Brennan was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the James Beard Foundation in 2009.

Earlier this year Brennan talked about cuisine in the Crescent City.

"You have to come here with the attitude in your mind that this city is different than most cities and that we do things here that make us very happy. We eat a lot," she said. "You can be eating in the top restaurant or you can eat in somebody's home, and they're cooking beans. It doesn't make any difference. Food is important in New Orleans."

According to CNN affiliate WDSU, Brennan began her restaurant career in 1946 at Vieux Carre, an establishment owned by her brother.

The New Orleans station wrote: "Smart and responsible, Ella Brennan soon started running the business. She was a voracious reader and started studying the restaurant industry."

WDSU reported that when her brother died during a time when the familiy was preparing to move the restaurant to a new location, Brennan worked to get financing to keep the restaurant going.

She also would open or take over at Café Adelaide, SoBou and Commander's Palace.

Commander's Palace is one of New Orleans' historic grande dame restaurants. Located in the Garden District, it was built in 1880 in a stunning Victorian house.

The kitchen has produced New Orleans legends, from the late Paul Prudhomme to Emeril Lagasse. The executive chef now is the award-winning Tory McPhail.

Lagasse called Brennan an "extraordinary soul."

"It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to call Miss Ella my mentor, friend and family. She was the embodiment of a class act whose vigor, passion and tenacity are unparalleled. I will miss her dearly," he tweeted.

"Bizarre Foods" host and chef Andrew Zimmern also tweeted his condolences.

"This is sad news, and we should also celebrate Ella Brennan's amazing life! My condolences to all the friends and family of this great lady whom I got to meet 36 years ago when I was in New Orleans for the first time.

CNN affiliate WGNO wrote that Brennan was the mastermind of bananas Foster. The famed dessert was created for a guest named Richard Foster. During one of his visits, Brennan saw the bananas in the kitchen of a family restaurant and remembered a treat her mom used to create. She also thought of how another restaurant served a flaming baked Alaska.

So Brennan decided to set her banana sauce on fire with some rum, cinnamon and banana liqueur, WGNO reported.

Brennan was the subject of the 2016 documentary "Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table."

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