Chef Art Smith is constantly standing at the intersection of politics, Hollywood and the foodie scene. Case in point, on Wednesday night he rushed back from Miami to his hometown of Chicago to dine with actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ferguson's fiance Justin Mikita and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn as Illinois lawmakers contemplated whether or not to pass gay marriage in the state. And pretty soon, he'll be back in the District, to celebrate President Obama's second inauguration and to host one of the city's first inaugural balls of the weekend, the Chefs Ball, on that Saturday.
"You know as well as I do that the balls' food tends to not be a priority," Smith told Yeas & Nays. "And that time of night people are hungry and when you've been celebrating and all that, when it comes around midnight you're like, 'I'm starving,' " he continued.
So to satiate the hunger, Smith recruited his local chef friends, including Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang, the Source's Scott Drewno, Equinox's Todd Gray, D.C. Central Kitchen's Rock Harper and Graffiato's Mike Isabella, to cook up some serious eats for the crowd. Tickets for the ball cost $75 and the money is going toward a handful of charities. That decision was made by Smith, who can easily talk about keeping kids healthy, diabetes, gay marriage, bullying and food policy in one sitting.
"I just preached what I believe to them," he said of the chefs and their many charities. Thus proceeds will be benefitting everything from D.C. Central Kitchen (Harper's choice) to the Cambodian Children's Fund (Bruner-Yang's selection). And because Smith has been active in the gay marriage fight and was inspired by his meeting with "Modern Family's" Ferguson, he plans to have his servers sport bow ties during the Chefs Ball as well, to support Ferguson's charity, TieTheKnot.org. "I don't want it to take away from the chefs," he explained. "I just think the bow ties are nice."