Leon Rene Galatoire of Galatoire’s restaurant has died | Where NOLA Eats

by admin

Leon Rene Galatoire, former chef and manager of the renowned French Quarter restaurant Galatoire’s, died Friday of liver disease at Heritage Manor nursing home in Mandeville. He was 68.

During his career at the Bourbon Street landmark, from 1976 to 1996, Galatoire became an accomplished chef, devoted to the uncompromising, age-old cuisine. But he might be better known as the nighttime, front-of-the-house manager, where his natural conviviality shone.

As his cousin and fellow Galatoire’s employee David Gooch explained, the restaurant’s patrons seek more than fine food; they hope to have fun, and Galatoire was an expert at meeting their expectations.

“He always made people laugh and put them at ease,” Gooch said.

Royal family of dining

Galatoire was born into New Orleans dining royalty. He was a descendant of Galatoire’s founder Jean Galatoire, his uncle Rene Galatoire was the restaurant manager and his father, Gabriel Rene Galatoire, was dining room manager. But that’s not where his restaurant career began.

His sister, Michele Marie Galatoire, said Leon Galatoire attended Sam Barthe School for Boys in Metairie, then St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After a summer in Europe, he enrolled at Loyola University, where he spent a year studying while waiting tables at night at Pique’s Wharf, a bygone West End restaurant.

It wouldn’t be long before he moved to his family’s flagship restaurant, but his stint at Pique’s was formative: He met his future wife, Lisa Pique, the owner’s daughter, while employed there, although it would be almost 30 years before they wed.

Lisa Pique Galatoire and Leon Rene Galatoire.

Lisa Pique Galatoire said they stayed in touch in the interim, but that a real romance did not blossom until sometime after 2000, when she attended a housewarming party at her husband’s new place in the French Quarter. To her astonishment, he announced they would eventually marry. In 2004, they did.

She said he shared his culinary skills and good nature with her two sons from a previous marriage, and appointed himself their personal chef. “He would make anything the boys would like to eat,” she said.

In his 1994 book, “Galatoire’s Cookbook,” Galatoire cited his visits to the fishing camp of his mother’s brother for his love of cooking seafood. But they might have instilled more than that. “Uncle Buddy” took young Galatoire and others out to the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, where they fished regardless of the bucking waves, and friends Galatoire was a devoted scuba diver, regularly sailed the Caribbean Sea and sometimes flew gliders.

After stepping away from Galatoire’s restaurant, friends said, he remained an in-demand celebrity chef, cooking at country club functions across the United States. But eventually health issues began to interfere.

He is survived by his wife, Lisa Pique Galatoire, and stepsons David Doherty and Michael Doherty, all of Covington; his sister, Michele Marie Galatoire of New Orleans, and his half-sister, Rene Hotard Bennett of St. Louis. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment