New Orleans legend Willie Mae Seaton has died at 99

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Obit Willie Mae Seaton




















Some sad news. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Willie Mae Seaton, owner (and namesake) of the beloved New Orleans restaurant Willie Mae's Scotch House, died this past Friday, September 18, at the age of 99.

A former beautician who converted her beauty shop into a bar in 1957, which she later turned into a restaurant where she cooked food like smothered veal and fried catfish, Seaton became nationally lauded for her fried chicken. The restaurant was a neighborhood spot in the true sense of the word, and Seaton was willing to protect that at the cost of perhaps unwanted business: When the Times-Picayune wrote about it, she did not allow the address to be printed or for her photo to be taken. But that didn't — couldn't — stop people from tracking her down. She counted celebrity chefs John Besh and John Currence as well as the Southern Foodways Alliance's (SFA) John T. Edge and Treme writer Lolis Eric Elie among her fans, was named an America's Classic by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, and after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina destroyed her business the SFA organized a rebuilding effort led by Currence.

Eventually, she opened a second location in New Orleans's Uptown section that attracts long lines and a more touristy crowd. No doubt her many fans will be having a plate, or two, of fried chicken in her memory in the coming weeks.

More photos of Willie Mae and her restaurant:

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Willie Mae Seaton
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New Orleans legend Willie Mae Seaton has died at 99
Willie Mae Seaton works on a pot of stewed chicken as she prepares for the lunch rush at her restaurant in New Orleans, Thursday, May 5, 2005. Seaton has been dishing up fried chicken, smothered pork chops and red beans and rice at her little restaurant for almost 50-years. Seaton won the America's Classic Award from the James Beard Foundation. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Willie Mae Seaton smiles as she gets ready for the lunch rush at her restaurant in New Orleans, Thursday, May 5, 2005. Seaton has been dishing up fried chicken, smothered pork chops and red beans and rice at her little restaurant for almost 50-years. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Willie Mae Seaton works on a pot of gravy as she prepares for the lunch rush at her restaurant in New Orleans, Thursday, May 5, 2005. Seaton has been dishing up fried chicken, smothered pork chops and red beans and rice at her little restaurant for almost 50-years. Seaton won the America's Classic Award from the James Beard Foundation. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Willie Mae Seaton moves around her kitchen as she prepares lunch at her restaurant in New Orleans, Thursday, May 5, 2005. Seaton has been dishing up fried chicken, smothered pork chops and red beans and rice at her little restaurant for almost 50-years. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., bottom left, sits down for lunch with young adults who's lives were affected by Hurricane Katrina at Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, while visiting for the 10th anniversary since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Willie Mae's has been a family-owned soul food restaurant since 1957. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama sits down for lunch with patrons of Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, while visiting for the 10th anniversary since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Willie Mae's has been a family-owned soul food restaurant since 1957. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., second from left, sits down for lunch with young adults who's lives were affected by Hurricane Katrina at Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, while visiting for the 10th anniversary since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Willie Mae's has been a family-owned soul food restaurant since 1957. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Willie Mae Seaton cooks fried chicken for volunteers helping to rebuild her Hurricane Katrina-devastated restaurant, Willie Mae's Scotch House, in New Orleans, March 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)
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[Times-Picayune]

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