James Leeming was born in 1960 in Nicaragua, the oldest child of a New Orleanian diplomat, and Nicaraguan mother. Cooking was his primary interest but he enrolled in the School of Architecture at the University of Mexico. In 1980, after two years in college, his family was forced to leave Nicaragua and flee to New Orleans to avoid the ensuing war. James had two goals, master English and become a chef. He enrolled in the University of New Orleans language program, and in 1981 started at the bottom of the ladder of Pancho’s Mexican restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana.
After one year, in 1992, he took a job as food runner at Commander’s Palace where he caught the eyes of their management team as he worked his way up the ladder, eventually becoming kitchen manager. Great Chef Emeril Lagasse spotted his potential and moved him to the cooking side of the operations and for the next seven years, James worked every food station in the restaurant. He continued to work the next five years under Great Chef Jamie Shannon as garde manger. In 1995, he went to work under his mentor Great Chef Frank Brigtsen as chef de cuisine at Brigtsen’s uptown restaurant.
In 1998, when the Brennan family decided to open a steakhouse in the French Quarter, Chef Leeming was their first choice as executive chef. The following year, in 1999, the Great Chefs television team showed up to tape Chef Leeming for their Great Chefs of America television show for the Discovery Channel.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and flooded both the lower portion and kitchen of Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. Chef Leeming worked a little at their sister restaurant Palace Café. Since there was no time schedule to reopen the steakhouse, Chef Leeming took the executive chef position at an undamaged uptown restaurant, Dick & Jenny’s, in 2006. Three years later that was sold and Chef Leeming and his wife, Heather, opened their own restaurant in 2009 called Coulis, Chef Leeming’s nickname from Commander’s Palace days. In 2011 Chef Leeming died unexpectedly at age 50 from a bleeding ulcer. His wife continues running Coulis restaurant today in 2016.
Bacon-wrapped Beef Fillet with Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Serving: 4 Print Bacon-wrapped Beef Fillet with Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes By Great Chefs October 5, 2015 Simple, and simply delicious: fillets grilled to your taste are served atop mounds of bleu cheese mashed potatoes. Bourbon Pepper Cream Sauce dresses the steaks and the plates. Don’t try to whip the potatoes until smooth; mash by […]
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