Inside Chef Art Smith's Private 50th Birthday Party!


Mayor Daley congratulates Chef Art Smith at his 50th birthday party.

Fit, fab and fifty!  Chef Art Smith threw a party and EVERYONE came!  The private, by-invitation-only 50th birthday party for Chef Art Smith was held at the James Hotel on Sunday evening, February 28th.  150 friends packed the room to celebrate not only Art’s 50th birthday but all of the great work he has done to make his charity, Common Threads, a national success. 


At $1000 per person, this event raised $500,000 on this one night alone!  Some wealthy friends chipped in to donate a surprise birthday gift of $85K while Oprah topped the birthday cake with her generous donation of $250K.  When she asked Art what he wanted for his present, he replied, “A treadmill….”….She suggested he aim higher! 


8 top chefs each contributed a course for this evening and they included Nigella Lawson, Stephanie Izard, David Burke, Ming Tsai, Alan Wong, Gavin Kaysen, Barbara Lynch and Rey Villalobos.   There was entertainment by Michael Johns and Sara Wasserman. Executive Director, Linda O’Keefe, resplendent in Burberry, welcomed guests and Art’s  life partner, Jesus Salguiero, gave a heartfelt speech about him that brought tears to everyone’s eyes.  Chef Stephanie Izard put it this way, “Art keeps getting smaller and smaller in his waist and bigger and bigger in his heart.”  I’ll say, with his 90 pound weight loss (325 down to 235), he is a shadow of his former self and now truly is the role model he’s always hoped to be for the many children he mentors.  


Seen in the crowd of A-listers were Mayor Daley arriving with Desiree Rogers,  MK Pritzker, Julie and Fred Latsko, Steve Lombardo, Judd Malkin, Katherine Chez, Terry Newman, Art’s mom Addie May, Brian McCormick, Sari Zernich, Todd Hatoff, Hollye and Jeff Jacobs, Kristina and Mike McGrath, Virginia and Norm Bobbins, David Blowers, Marilyn and David Vitale, Caryn and King Harris, Gigi Pritzker, Michael Pucker, Lee and Tom Baur, Mimi and Bob Murley, Mayari Pritzker,  Father Jack Clair, Gail Simmons, Sarita Dandamudi, Jannie and Elliot Pearlman, Helen Melchior, Rhonda Sanderson, John Amato, Paul Iacono, Dori Wilson, Rich Varnes, Amanda Puck, Manolis Alpogianis, Ken Norgan and Mario Santiago and others.


During the 2 day celebration (World Festival was Monday night) $1.2 million dollars was raised to support Common Thread’s after-school cooking program which will allow funding for sixty 12-week sessions for low-income 8-12 year olds!  The host committee included Lee Blackwell Baur, Katherine Chez, Lisa Erspamer, Brian McCaskey, Sue and Mike McCloskey, Ken O’Keefe and Jason Stephens, Mayari Pritzker, Patrick Sheahan, Marilyn Vitale, Linda Yu and yours truly. 

(Photos by Caitlin Saville) 


Leave a comment