Paul Prudhomme, a self-taught Louisiana cook who seared his way into popular culture as the king of Cajun food, whose gumbo, jambalaya and blackened redfish made him one of the country’s most popular and influential chefs, died Thursday. He was 75.
Tiffanie Roppolo, the chief financial officer of Prudhomme’s businesses, confirmed the death. Details were not immediately available.
Prudhomme grew up on a farm near Opelousas, La., where he learned to cook over a wood stove with his mother. For the rest of his life, he sought to re-create the flavors and familial warmth of the food from Cajun country. “We’d taste the dish two or three times while it was cooking and adjust the seasoning,” Prudhomme recalled in 1987. “No Cajun cook ever thinks a recipe’s finished just because all the ingredients are in the pot.”
Since 1979, Prudhomme had owned and operated K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter of New Orleans. People stood in line for hours for a table at the 62-seat restaurant, which became a beacon of a new trend in American cuisine, built on fresh ingredients and regional pride.
“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,” New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne told the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper in 1988. “He opened up the floodgates to the whole field of Southern cooking.”
The first of his many bestsellers, “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” (1984) made Cajun food a sensation, as Louisiana-themed restaurants sprang up nationwide. He cooked at the White House for presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and at an economic summit in Williamsburg, Va., in 1983. Prudhomme’s short, rotund figure and his soft Cajun accent became familiar through his hundreds of appearances on television.
Prudhomme was credited with inventing “blackened” dishes, in which the outside of a fish fillet or a cut of meat was coated with a blend of dry herbs and spices, then seared in a skillet over high heat. He sold so much blackened redfish that a commercial fishing ban was enacted.
Prudhomme also popularized the turducken, an elaborate poultry dish in which a chicken is stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. He received a trademark for the name “turducken” in 1986 and had a line of seasonings, hot sauce and sausages.
Henning Mankell, a Swedish novelist and playwright best known for police procedurals that were translated into a score of languages and sold by the millions throughout the world, died Monday in Goteborg, Sweden. He was 67.
The cause was cancer, said literary agent Anneli Hoier.
Mankell was considered the dean of the Scandinavian noir writers who gained global prominence for novels that blended edge-of-your-seat suspense with flawed, compelling protagonists and strong social themes. The genre includes Iceland’s Arnaldur Indridason, Jo Nesbo of Norway and Sweden’s Stieg Larsson, among others.
But it was Mankell who led the way with 10 mystery novels featuring Inspector Kurt Wallander, a gruff but humane detective troubled by self-doubt, overeating, alcoholism and eventually dementia. Most of the action takes place in and around Ystad, a real-life town of 18,350 on the Baltic Sea, about 380 miles south of Stockholm.
Denis Healey, 98, a British socialist politician who used leadership positions to downsize his country’s empire by militarily retreating from Asia in the 1960s and accepting harsh terms for an international loan in the 1970s, died last week at his home in Alfriston, Sussex, his family said. He was 98.