NEW ORLEANS -- For more than 50 years, Willie Mae Seaton was more comfortable in the kitchen of her restaurant than at anything resembling a City Council meeting.
But Thursday, the woman known nationwide for the Creole soul food she popularized at Willie Mae's Scotch House, was front row center before the Council, honored by the city as she marks her 100th birthday.
Seaton's children and grandchildren now run the restaurant at Saint Ann and North Tonti streets.
Several of them joined her at the City Council meeting, including grandson Ronnie Seaton, who has worked as a chef at The White House.
"I played in my grandmother's restaurant as a child," Ronnie Seaton told council members. "And later, when I came home as an adult and a chef, it was an honor to wash my grandmother's dishes!"
The restaurant, first opened in 1956, gained national attention for its brand of Creole and soul food, including fried chicken, gumbo and other southern specialties.
Seaton made headlines when her restaurant flooded during Hurricane Katrina and was rebuilt with the help of donors and volunteers from across the country, including the Southern Foodways Alliance.