Art Smith is a Chicago-based chef, cookbook author and television personality whose mission is to encourage families and friends to gather around the table to share a meal. He owns the Chicago restaurant Table Fifty-Two, which celebrates Southern food, the food of his youth. Eventually he settled in Chicago and from 1997 until 2007, he was Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham’s personal chef, and now is the specialty chef for Oprah’s most important events. Art is a two-time James Beard Award recipient, having won the Best Cookbook award in 2002 for Back to the Table, and the Humanitarian award in 2007. He is a contributing editor to O magazine and the food section of Oprah.com and has appeared several times on Oprah. He is featured regularly on television programs such as Today and Good Day Live. He is a regular tasting judge for Iron Chef America. As a way to support his community, in 2003 Art established Common Threads, a nonprofit organization that embodies his mission to foster a familial environment where children can learn to value each other and discover universal understanding and mutual acceptance. The program serves more than 1,000 children at seven locations around Chicago and recently expanded into the Oprah Winfrey Boys & Girls Club of Kosciusko, Mississippi, and into Los Angeles, too.
Here are a few of Art's favorite recipes:
1. Seeded Cheddar Cheese Straws Long before cooking for fancy folks, these graced the tables of many Southerners. I've made them for Oprah Winfrey's parties for years, and though the recipe is my family’s, they have made many famous families happy.
2. Cod with Cashews Baked in Foil Envelopes When I was a kid, I remember making hobo dinners. They were little foil pouches filled with vegetables and usually chicken or steak. What a great way to cook, and very healthy. I was a horrific Boy Scout, but this inspired recipe continues to please.
3. Peanut Brittle with Art and Soul The best part of making food is giving it away as gifts to people, regardless of the season. We all like to receive homemade creations, and homemade candy is a particularly great one to share. This recipe was a gift to international cooking star Nigella Lawson; the recipe is my grandmother Mable's, but as she had made it for her family in Jasper, Florida. I made it in star chef Jamie Oliver's kitchen in London and gave it as gifts to all my English friends. Nigella LOVED it!
4. Roasted Beets with Walnuts I remember the first oven-roasted beet I ate. I was just amazed over the flavor. Before, I had eaten only canned beets, and with oven-roasted beets a whole new beet world opened up to me. They have become my dessert. This wonderful salad is healthy and delicious. Oprah loves it!
5. Pear, Ginger, and Pecan Loaf On our l00-year-old North Florida farm, we have a pecan orchard planted by my Great-Grandfather Smith. Next to the old house was a sand pear tree that produced delicious but very hard pears. They were great for making preserves and fun to pick and eat. This recipe reminds me of those days on the farm.
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