Photo by Ted Jackson,; The Times-Picayune
This past Saturday, the New Orleans and national culinary community lost one of their own. Richard “Dick” Brennan Sr., a prominent member of the famed Brennan’s family of restaurateurs, died at the age of 83. Helping turn the city into a fine dining Creole destination, Richard recognized the bounty of the region and the true potential of a city steeped in such tradition. He ushered in a new era of New Orleans entertaining and cuisine, instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace, and he will most certainly be missed in this industry and beyond.

“Our Dad was kind, gentle and giving. A mentor, visionary, leader and statesman,” said his children, Dickie and Lauren in a statement this week. “His motto was 'leave it better than you found it.' He was the ultimate New Orleanian and a true Irishman.

According to a biography put together by the family, Richard’s life reads quite like a storybook—one in which good fortune, hard work and integrity led to many successes. Richard married shortly after graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans—to his wife, Lynne, of 64 years, nonetheless—completing 2 years of law school and eventually enlisting in the Army. Following the loss of his brother, Owen Brennan, founder of Brennan's Restaurant in the French Quarter, Richard and his family continued operating the restaurant while expanding to other concepts and locations. In 1973, when the Brennan’s split their restaurants, Richard joined his siblings, Ella, John, Adelaide and Dottie as they developed Commander’s Palace into the premier concept it became known for.

Among Chefs who not only gained fame there, but became the well-respected acolyte of Richard, Ella and the family, are Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.

Richard was passionate about New Orleans and American cuisine, and he acknowledged its potential from the start.  

“He’ll be deeply missed, but he leaves behind a legacy so profound that his spirit will live on through the beautiful city he called home,” said Dickie and Lauren. “It’s only natural to raise a glass and toast in his honor to a life well lived.

Read in its entirety the beautiful tribute written by Dickie and Lauren for their father here.