In a way, chef Art Smith has become a celebrity in his own right. He's authored cookbooks, appeared on Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" and is known for the success of his two restaurants, Table 52 in Chicago and Art & Soul here in D.C. That being said, he has also cooked for some really big names, and doesn't mind dishing about them.
On a recent trip to D.C., Smith gabbed with reporters and bloggers over a lunch of his own favorite dishes at Art & Soul. While he's best known for his work for Oprah, he's cooked for everyone from the Bush family to Lady Gaga and raves about them all.
On cooking for the Bush clan: "This is a royal political family and there's not another family except the Kennedys and the Daleys and my favorite thing to say is that 'Fried chicken doesn't take sides,' " Smith said of the family. "I love Jeb because Jeb's wife is Mexican-American and my partner is Venezuelan and they have always embraced him -- they are really good people." Before working for Oprah, Smith cooked for Jeb Bush when he was Florida's governor. He also worked alongside Barbara Bush to host luncheons for her charity the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. "Living the life without the ability to read is a very sad life," Smith said. "I grew up with a father who was dyslexic and a brother who was dyslexic. ... That's why I support literacy."
He also discussed his first encounter with pop star Lady Gaga, who loves Smith's fried chicken. The two were scheduled to appear on Oprah the same week, so Smith insisted that he cook for her. "I make all this food, I make all this oatmeal, blah blah blah, chicken and waffles and all this stuff, and she comes running out of the dressing room and says, 'I love you, and I was so sad when you got voted off Top Chef Masters,' " Smith recounted. "I said, 'Honey, it wasn't about winning, it was about being remembered, and the fact that you remembered me ... I won.' "