The Impressive Number Of Celebrities Art Smith Has Cooked For

Known as the ultimate purveyor of southern-style fried chicken, celebrity chef Art Smith carries a lot of accolades for his cooking style, recipes, books, signature restaurants, and appearances on shows such as "Top Chef," "Iron Chef America," "Rachel Ray," and "BBQ Pitmasters." Despite his current culinary-star appeal, it has not been an easy road for the Florida native and two-time James Beard Foundation award-winner. He told the Tampa Bay Times that it took a while for other chefs to take him seriously and that they called his signature fried chicken "housewife food." But as he noted in the interview, "The best revenge is success." No doubt, a particular one of his now-many celebrity clients and friends had something to do with that.

But nearer and dearer to Chef Smith's heart than well-known personalities clamoring for his culinary creations is an almost two-decade connection to Common Threads, the nonprofit he co-founded in 2003 after helping supply meals for New York families affected by 9/11. The organization now provides cooking lessons and nutrition education for 30,000-plus non-famous people in under-served communities to help reduce childhood obesity, encourage healthy eating habits, and use food to embrace cultural diversity and tolerance, per the Chef Art Smith website.

Undoubtedly, the success of Art Smith's endeavors gets a boost from the impressive number of celebrities and prominent people who've dived into his dished-out Deep South cooking over the years. Here's a glimpse of some famous friends who became part of his culinary journey.

Feeding the stars of daytime TV, music, and politics

The first celebrity contributing to Art Smith becoming a household name is Oprah Winfrey. Starting in 1997, Smith served 10 years as her day-to-day chef, and his fried chicken had its own celebrity status. As Smith explained to the Tampa Bay Times, Oprah was craving fried chicken on her 50th birthday, so he created a Southern-roots version that became her favorite and appeared on her daytime talk show many times.

After meeting Barack and Michelle Obama at an Oprah dinner party, Smith embarked on the latter's book tour for her "Becoming" bestseller. In a People Magazine interview, Smith revealed that Michelle's favorite road dish was his turkey chili and that meals were peaceful and "family-like." The former first lady called his cooking the perfect mix of healthy and comforting for that busy time in her life. It wasn't Smith's first brush with presidential power cooking, having fed four presidents in his lifetime, per People.

Another famous friendship comes from the world of pop music, with none other than diva Lady Gaga. Chef Smith appeared on "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving" in 2011, whipping up his fried chicken and waffles with the superstar, who declared him her favorite chef in the world, per the Chicago Tribune. A year later, Smith teamed up with Gaga's father and fellow chef Joe Germanotta to open Joanne Trattoria in New York City, which Food & Wine calls a mix of Italian fare and Southern roots recipes.