Louisiana chef Prudhomme, who helped popularize Cajun food, dies at 75

(Reuters) - Celebrated Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme, who helped popularize Cajun and Creole cuisine like jambalaya, blackened redfish and gumbo in the United States and worldwide, has died at age 75, a representative from his New Orleans restaurant said on Thursday.

Prudhomme, known for his soft white hat, salt-and-pepper beard and Cajun accent, was a television mainstay who also launched a successful line of spices, sauces and smoked meats and authored cookbooks.

He died after a brief illness, said an official from K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant Prudhomme and his wife opened in 1979 in the city’s French Quarter.

The restaurant quickly became a popular destination for Cajun and Creole recipes, including jambalaya, blackened Louisiana drum fish and New Orleans-style bread pudding.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called Prudhomme an international ambassador of Louisiana culture.

“He was an innovator that inspired countless professional chefs and the millions at home who watched him on television,” Landrieu said in a statement.

“I am confident that his influence and legacy will continue through those who knew him best,” Landrieu added.

Known by many simply as Chef Paul, Prudhomme was named a pioneer of American cuisine by the Culinary Institute of America and culinarian of the year by the American Culinary Federation, according to his website. He wrote nine cookbooks, according to his website.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Will Dunham