(CNN) — Four chefs -- Leah Chase, Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link and Nina Compton -- sat down for an intimate CNN family meal to talk about their unique journeys, both to restaurant kitchens and to the extraordinary city of New Orleans.
Louisiana natives Chase and Link didn't have too far to travel -- although Link detoured through kitchens in San Francisco. Lagasse and Compton traveled south and north, respectively -- from Fall River, Massachusetts, and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
Each brings a host of influences to their cooking, but the city they call home exerts itself in equally powerful ways.
And there's a special sense of camaraderie among chefs here.
"The way people are here, they're just thankful that you're adding to their community," newcomer Compton says.
From the racial barriers Chase broke in the 1940s to the sobering and unifying experience of surviving Hurricane Katrina in 2005, these New Orleans chefs recognize the city's true riches.
"We don't have big industry here," says Chase. "But I think we have the finest industry there is: People."
Watch the full Family Meal: New Orleans documentary above for the chefs' stories.