Chefs hail first foodies with inauguration salute
WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of Washington's top chefs are coming together to salute the president ahead of the inauguration, in part because of the first family's influence on the culture around food.
Chicago-based Chef Art Smith is opening his Capitol Hill restaurant Art and Soul for a late-night Chefs Ball expected to attract food fans of all stripes Saturday night with its relatively low ticket price of $75. Seven celebrity chefs teamed up for the charity event to prepare delicious bites for a sold-out crowd of more than 500.
From the White House garden to Michelle Obama's focus on healthy eating, Smith said the Obamas, more than any other first family, have embraced fresh American food and care about where food comes from.
"Can that little garden at the White House feed America? No. But you know what it can do? It can inspire America," Smith said. "Most importantly, it's that we as Americans all deserve good food, regardless of economic, social differences."
Smith was Oprah Winfrey's personal chef for years and competed on TV's "Top Chef Masters."
For his first inaugural ball, Smith is cooking his trademark fried chicken. There would probably be a riot if he didn't, he said.
Guests are expected to include "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Gayle King, co-anchor of "CBS This Morning" and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The wait staff will wear white bow ties from Ferguson's organization TieTheKnot.org to promote gay marriage rights in Illinois and across the country.
Chefs will serve up dishes at stations around the restaurant. Smith is joined by Washington restaurateurs Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground, Scott Drewno of The Source, Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant, Rock Harper of TV's "Hell's Kitchen" who helps lead the charity D.C. Central Kitchen and Mike Isabella, a "Top Chef All-Stars" finalist whose restaurants include Graffiato and Bandolero.
Isabella said he was new to Washington four years ago and that the city's food scene has come of age in the Obama era. He plans to open another restaurant later this year.
"I think D.C. is probably one of the biggest and fastest-growing culinary scenes in America," Isabella said. "It was a steakhouse town 10 years ago. Nowadays it's all about living in the city and being a part of the growth."
In the 1980s, Smith said he visited the Reagan White House when it was party central. The Reagans loved entertaining, he said, but all the cooking was French.
"America had not really discovered or embraced its food to say 'We are America. We are about our food. We are about this wonderful melting pot of people who have all come together and created this amazing culture,'" Smith said.
In the past 20 years, tastes have changed. As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton embraced American cooking, and Laura Bush brought Tex-Mex to the White House, Smith said. The Obamas have gone a step further to foster more conversation about fresh ingredients.
Isabella, who joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's inaugural American Chefs Corps last year to use food as a tool for diplomacy, credits the Obama administration with changing attitudes around food.
"I think they're the first to really indulge into the whole culinary scene, putting chef programs together for schools and kids, dining in restaurants around the city and really believing in food and farm-to-table," he said. "It's been a huge, huge help for us."
Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat
Kim Kardashian says her pregnancy lips are out of control, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
Check out Hollywood's hottest bikini bods on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
Robert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
Better with age
See which stars just get better with age.Watch Video »
Check out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
Find out who went after Kendall Jenner on social media on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Twitter AttackFind out who went after Kendall Jenner on social media on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- 'Fast' TalkWatch as the cast of "Fast & furious 6" talk about getting injuries while filming, getting jacked and a whole lot more.Watch Video »
- Feeling SwollenKim Kardashian says her pregnancy lips are out of control, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Party AnimalsCheck out some of Hollywood's biggest party animals.Watch Video »
- Carrie's ChangesSee how this country cutie has changed her looks over the years.Watch Video »
- Moving OutRobert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Who Am I?Check out how Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and more stars of "Fast & Furious 6" looked when they were in high school.Watch Video »
- LovebirdsFind out what Jessica Alba and Cash Warren tweeted to each other on their fifth wedding anniversary on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Worst LooksCheck out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- What's Sexy?Heidi Klum hangs with two comedy legends and shares what she finds most sexy in a man on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Sexy SecretsVictoria's Secret model Adriana Lima talks about the What's Sexy list, her model friends and more with Wonderwall.Watch Video »
- American TravelsGet the Prince's travel details on Replay hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
- Birthday GirlTori Spelling turns 40, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Fashion OffendersFlorence Welch, Zoe Saldana, and Ali Larter all get an F on this week's Fashion OffendersWatch Video »
- Bikini BurnsFrom Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba, see the worst celeb sunburns.Watch Video »
- Double TroubleFrom the Olsens to the Mowrys, see some of Hollywood's most famous twins.Watch Video »
- Roasted?Lindsay Lohan refuses to be roasted, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Beach WorkoutsFrom Julianne Hough to Alessandra Ambrosio, see celebs who get their fitness on in the sand.Watch Video »
- Miley's MusicMiley Cyrus mixes music and fashion while ignoring her relationship status, on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
- Royal AdviceSnooki gives Prince Harry some advice, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Country CutiesCheck out the hottest couples in country music.Watch Video »
From Videos of Wonderwall
From MSN Entertainment
From Crowd Ignite