Apr 14

Chef Bio: Art Smith

Art Smith

Art Smith

Chef Art Smith, born in Jasper, Florida, has made his way around the world as a distinguished chef, working for Oprah Winfrey and former Governor Bob Graham, cooking his way around Europe and Africa as a family chef and working on the American European Express Train.

Famous for his traditional Southern Cuisine, Smith’s signature restaurant, Table fifty-two, delights diners in Chicago, serving such traditional Southern fare as fried green tomatoes, crab cake, crispy pork belly, and oyster po-boy. Smith’s second restaurant, Art and Soul, catering to Washington DC’s Capitol Hill crowd, features local cuisine with a southern twist.

In addition to his restaurants, the celebrity chef also co-founded Common Threads, a non-profit in which chefs teach children from low-income neighborhoods how to cook healthy food and why eating the right way is the key to leading a healthy lifestyle. Smith’s work with Common Threads earned him the 2007 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award, and he was named Chicagoan of the year that same year by Chicago Magazine.

His book Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family garnered him a James Beard Foundation Award in 2002. He’s also the author of Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families.

Smith has also become a familiar face with television viewers. He got his first taste of Top Chef as a contestant in Top Chef Masters in 2009, where he was eliminated in the fourth episode. He went on to guest judge on the regular installment of Top Chef in 2010. Smith also serves as a regular judge for Iron Chef America on Food Network.

Smith has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Rachael Ray, Entertainment Tonight, Larry King Live, The Bonnie Hunt Show, Good Day Live and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Despite the success he has enjoyed with his restaurants, Smith continues to cook for high profile celebrities.  After spending a decade as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, Smith continues to serve as her specialty chef. His relationship with Winfrey parlayed into a contributing editor role with O Magazine, and he has frequently appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Apr 13

Chef Bio: Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert’s strongest culinary influence came from cooking with his grandmother in Antibes, France, where he was born in 1965 and spent much of his childhood before moving to Spain. His upbringing heavily influenced his culinary palate, which is evident in his specialization of seafood and his infusing a Spanish flavor to his dishes.

Before heading his own restaurants, Ripert worked at Jamin, a three Michelin star restaurant, in Paris, and as a sous chef for the Jean-Louis Palladin at his self-titled restaurant in Washington D.C.’s Watergate Hotel.

Le Bernardin in New York City is perhaps Ripert’s most critically acclaimed restaurant.  Awarded four starts by The New York Times three months after it opened in 1986 almost a decade before Ripert would become a co-owner, Le Bernardin still maintains those four stars today and holds the distinction of never having lost a star. Le Bernardin, which specializes in seafood, also earned three Michelin stars each year from 2005 through 2007.

Ripert’s Weekend Bistro, a self-described casual neighborhood restaurant, caters to the Washington DC crowd with its American cuisine served at brunch, lunch, and dinner while 10 Arts in Philadelphia is described as a contemporary American bistro. Located in the Ritz-Carlton, 10 Arts’ menu features seasonal, organic produce from local farmers.

The only restaurant in the Caribbean with AAA diamond restaurant status, Blue features both classic Eric Ripert dishes, made famous at Le Bernardin, and fresh local fish.

Ripert’s culinary achievements have earned him elite status in the culinary world and have garnered him a slew of awards, including The James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef in the United States in 2003 and Top Chef in New York City in 1998.

The chef’s critically acclaimed Le Bernardin has also won its fair share of awards. Le Bernardin earned four star status from The New York Times in 1986, a distinction it still holds today; Zagat named its food the Best in New York City from 2000 through 2007, and The James Beard Foundation awarded Le Bernardin 1998’s Outstanding Restaurant of the Year.

Ripert’s culinary accomplishments have naturally translated into television opportunities.Avec Eric debuted on PBS in 2009 and has already received a James Beard Foundation nomination. Currently in its second season, Avec Eric is described as a blend between an eco-friendly travelogue, a cooking show, and a documentary of life at Le Bernardin.

Reality television fans perhaps know Ripert best for his recurring guest judge spot on Bravo TV’s hit series Top Chef. In addition to Top Chef, Ripert has appeared on dozens of televisions shows, including The Today Show, The Early Show, Access Hollywood, The Martha Stewart Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Regis & Kelly.

The celebrity chef is also the author of the books On the Line and A Return to Cooking.

Often displaying a calm demeanor, Ripert doesn’t always keep his cool, as The Boston Herald shared in a March 2011 blurb. In fact, question whether he uses real truffles at Le Bernardin and risk having your table cloth, and everything with it, pulled from beneath your table before you are removed from the restaurant. Ripert’s response to his handling of the situation?  I don’t know what happened. I know I should not have done it. It wasn’t the way to deal with a complaint.”