The Culinary Art… Smith

It is true that your family are not always related to you by blood.  “Family” are the people that love you and genuinely, unselfishly care how you’re doing (and what you’re doing) with no other motive.

We know that one of “our family” has inspired our son from an early age.  Grayson’s “Uncle Art”  has given him an early interest in herbs and seasonings and lead him to question, “where do these come from?”  Grayson’s always questioned every ingredient and is passionate about what to do with them.

Art taught our daughter to cook scrambled eggs when she was two and she’s been cooking them ever since (she’s 3.5).  She’s cooking all kinds of foods now.  This is all thanks to our “family” member Art Smith.  He has a very special skill of teaching children, they just love him!

Chef Art Smith

Art and his life partner, Jesus Salguiero, stayed up all night the night before Grayson’s first birthday party.  They helped Grayson’s grandmother assemble his birthday present (a ride-in electric volkswagon) and cook a big, beautiful teddy bear cake (his famous hummingbird cake recipe).  Art and Jesus have such a generous nature.  We love, love, love Jesus.  He is an artist with divine talent.  When you see his art (internet does not show it like real life), you know he was born with a gift.   Check out his website… it will take you into another realm.  Susejart.com, it’s a real treat for the senses.

Art and Jesus have been such a big part of our lives. We are so proud to call them “family”.

Margie (my mom) & her best friend Art.

Nate Berkus, Art Smith and Margie Geddes.

Art and Grayson at Pink Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas

Art loves children.  He and Jesus established the  Common Threads Foundation  for underprivledged children (8-12 years old).  He teaches them to cook and eat together.  They learn about nutrition, preparing foods, world cuisines, customs and traditions. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to children, the culinary arts and world cultures.

Art said that “he wanted to teach kids through food and cooking that we are all more similar than different.  Our world is a quilt, its people the fabric,  joined together by common threads”.  Many of Chicago’s culinary stars volunteer to teach classes and help with fundraising.  There is a very special event coming up on August 21st that will unselfishly benefit Common Threads.

Kumquat preserves made by Art. He wrote a sweet little note to me on the top.

Art grew up on a farm in a very small (two square miles) town called Jasper in North Florida…  think ‘Steel Magnolias”. His brother, Gene, runs the farm now with his wife and kids.  Gene is an American version of Crocodile Dundee.  He wears the most awesome hat I’ve ever seen in my life and has a big scar from a rattlesnake bite.

Art’s mother (Addie Mae) lives near-by.  Doesn’t she have the most beautiful name?  My mom dreams about her creamed corn and her persimmon tree.  They still can and preserve and have great southern recipes.  The influence passes from generation to generation.

Art and his mom, Addie Mae.

Art is best known for being  Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef.  He goes to Oprah’s school in Africa for at least a month or two every year to see “his girls”.  They loooove his pizza!

Oprah's book about her school in Africa.

A collage of some of the students at Oprah's school.

Before he worked for Oprah, Art was the executive mansion chef for Senator Bob Graham when he was the governor of Florida.  He has cooked for U.S. Presidents. He went to school at Disney’s culinary institute, the Walt Disney Magic Kingdom College Program.  He made Disney proud.

He also designed the galley on a Hakvoort ( a large motor yacht) and worked aboard the vessel for two years.  So, he’s seaworthy and has traveled all over the world.  These are only a few details of his extraordinary resume.

Art's kitchen.

Part of Art's cookbook collection.

He’s on the advisory board with leading nutrition and child development experts for a new program called Sesame Street Workshop.  They’re working on program develpment to set a foundation for healthy habits early in children’s lives.  I always wished somebody would tell me how to get to Sesame Street when I was a child.  I still  love to watch that show and I do… with my kids all the time.

Art  received an honorary MBA degree from the Florida State University School of Business.  It was only the second one to be given out in more than 150 years.

Art at FSU getting his honorary degree.

He won the James Beard Foundation Award in 2002 for his book, “Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family” and for Humanitarian of the Year in 2007. He’s written two other books as well;  “Back to the Family” and “Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families”.  I can assure you there will be more.

Back to the Family

Kitchen Life

He also has two restaurants.  One is in Chicago called “Table Fifty-Two” and the other is in Washington, D.C. and is called “Art & Soul”.  His signature dishes at Table 52 are goat cheese biscuits and macaroni and cheese.  These biscuits are their signature for a very good reason… OMG!  As soon as you sit down at your table they bring you these hot goat cheese biscuits.  The mac and cheese is the most comforting you could ever taste, except- maybe… your own mothers, of course. My favorite is the shrimp and grits.

Click here  for some more pictures of Chef Art and his meals.

Jesus and Art were Chicagoans of the Year for 2006. Cllick on the picture for a link to the article.

You might think Art is lucky to have worked for Oprah, but we know that  Oprah is the lucky one to have Art… now, Jesus is the lucky one.

Come grow with us!

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4 Responses to “The Culinary Art… Smith”

  1. I love Art I watch Top Chef and I just feel he is one of the real genuine people left in the world. I watch him on whatever he is on I liked the episode of Mike Simon’s show also.

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