Loretta Harrison, chef and owner of Loretta’s Pralines dies at 66

“Her daily joy was welcoming anyone who walked into her shop with a smile, a warm meal, and a heartfelt prayer.”

Loretta Harrison, the chef and owner of Loretta’s Authentic Pralines on Rampart Street has died at the age of 66, her family said in a statement.

The family said she was surrounded by loved ones when she passed on Wednesday, Feb. 16. 

Harrison, known as the city’s “Praline Queen” had owned the praline shop and successful business for more than three and a half decades and the shop’s web site says she was the first African American woman to own a “brick and mortar” praline company in the city. Her treats were sold in various other shops and were favorites at Jazz Fest.

Her family said that she was proud of being an entrepreneur who helped and advocated for other small business owners and who also appreciated the cultural and culinary arts and believed in civil liberties for all.

“Her daily joy was welcoming anyone who walked into her shop with a smile, a warm meal, and a heartfelt prayer. She was a woman with incredible grace and moral fortitude, and was a guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love,” said her family in a statement.

Ms. Harrison invited WWLTV.com’s photographer and producer Chad Bower to record her making her pralines in a video that debuted online in 2014. In it, you could clearly see the love she had for what she did.

“The recipe we use is the recipe that was handed down from my mother, from her mother, from her mother – as far as we know, it’s handed down from five generations,” she said in a video showing how she makes her iconic treat.

Harrison said the secret to her distinctive candy was the use of evaporated milk and “lots of butter” and “lots of pecans.”

In the video Harrison said that she never measured her ingredients when she made them. She said unlike many, she didn’t use a thermometer either, something considered essential to most successful praline making. “I just look at it,” she said. “I’ve been making pralines for 33 years, so I know it’s right,” she said.

“People ask me if I get tired of making pralines… no, God has blessed me with the ability to make something that I really enjoy. It’s not a chore. It’s a passion. I love making candy and a lot of people tell me that it shows.”

There was no immediate word on plans for services. 

Rebecca R. Ammons

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