Ella Brennan, a Queen of New Orleans Cuisine, has passed away at the age of 92. As an influential member of the Brennan family, she helped shape and guide the New Orleans food scene in iconic restaurants like Commanders Palace. Food Critic Tom Fitzmorris says few people on earth had her same talent for turning restaurants into world-famous culinary institutions.

“It was always right on the spot, that her conceptions of the restaurant business and how it should be, there’s nobody that could come close to her.”

Fitzmorris says Brennan was a shrewd businesswoman who turned the infamous 1970s Brennan family fallout into an opportunity to make her own way in the restaurant industry. She started over with nothing but Commanders palace, which she turned into a New Orleans legend that specializes not just in award-winning food, but spectacle.

“She lost it all when there was that split in the family in 1973. She had to retool everything that she was doing.”

Brennan shepherded some of New Orleans most iconic chefs, like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse through stints at Commanders and her other venues. Fitzmorris says she had an eye for talent.

“A lot of what she did was recognize talents and get them going on their careers and then see them just prosper in the whole world of the restaurant and hospitality in general.”