$60 for the Bring Your Beard Brunch with Chef Art Smith for one
- One appetizer
- One entree
- One cocktail
When is it? Sunday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What it is? The Bring Your Beard Brunch is a special event in celebration of the James Beard Awards, which take place Monday at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It also salutes the LGBT culinary community, which includes Table Fifty-two’s Chef Art Smith. (He’s won two James Beard Awards and will be presenting at Monday’s ceremony.) Another LGBT chef? The late James Beard himself.
Wait, who was James Beard? Called the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times in 1954, he was the chef who first realized the United States had a national cuisine, just like any other country. To highlight its excellence, he wrote cookbooks and started his own cooking school.
What should I expect at this brunch? Brunch will showcase the best of Table Fifty-two, well-known for its chicken and waffles, quiche, biscuits, and housemade bacon. There are also some special surprises in store—the menu will feature baked goods from the iconic Beard on Bread cookbook.
Is it for a good cause? Absolutely! 15% of the ticket price will be donated to the James Beard Foundation, which promotes the culinary arts and provides scholarships for aspiring chefs.
Chef Art Smith might as well be on Oprah's "Favorite Things" list every year. Before opening Table Fifty-two, Smith spent a decade as Oprah's personal chef, and she's loyal to his cooking even now. She often stops by Table Fifty-two for a gourmet, Southern-inspired meal—that is, when the media mogul isn't busy flying him around the world to cater her events. Below are three key facts about the restaurant that you can work into your next Skype date with Oprah.
1. This is Southern food made by a Southern farm boy.
Smith grew up on a farm in rural Florida, near the Georgia border. Unlike most Florida cuisine, which tends to focus on orange trees swallowed whole, the food in that area was "very much old South," meaning lots of sweet potatoes, pecans, and fried chicken, Smith said. So he grew up eating the food he cooks now, including the high-quality meats. His family raised plenty of livestock—as a kid, Smith even had a pet pig, Piglet.
2. The biscuits are life-changing.
Though an oven-fresh basket of them is free with every meal, it's far from a throwaway offering. In fact, biscuits might be Smith's signature dish. Whether he's cooking in Jackson, Mississippi, or running a pop-up restaurant in Milan, "I always make a biscuit," he said. At Table Fifty-two, they're pillowy drop biscuits, almost like the ones his grandma made. Smith's innovation? He works goat cheese into the dough and tops each one with a shaving of parmesan.
3. The Obamas also love Table Fifty-two.
It seems celebrities with O names flock to Smith's cooking. The first couple visited on their first Valentine's Day in office, and Michelle loved the shortbread-crusted pecan pie so much that, when she and President Obama were too full to finish it, she took it home in a doggie bag. “I think she actually made taking a doggie bag out fashionable," Smith said.