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Art Smith: White House Chef?

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 10, 2008 3:00PM

2008_11_art_smith.jpgLate last week, Audarshia "312 Dining Diva" Townsend wrote of the possibility of a local chef following President-elect Obama to the White House, naming Rick Bayless and Art Smith by name as two prime candidates. Townsend followed this with an anonymous tip in which Bayless asked Smith if he accepted the gig yet. Quoth the Diva:

"I can totally see it happening because according to, Smith was the executive chef to former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, a special events chef for Martha Stewart Living Magazine and Oprah Winfrey's personal chef for 10 years. He also lives in Hyde Park—near the Obamas—and is currently working on a new dining concept in the Washington, D.C. area."

Koinkydink? Probably. But Townsend isn't the first one to speculate on a possible change in White House chef. Some research of the web would and she would have known that Smith's name has been bandied about for months as as a possible candidate for the White House chef position. In June, New York food writer Gael Greene cited sources close to Smith in saying that the James Beard winner with the Oprah Seal of Approval would welcome the opportunity to handle special events, but not the day-to-day operations of cooking for the White House.

Like Rahm Emmanuel, if Smith was offered the position it could be the proverbial offer that can't be refused. Unlike Emmanuel, White House Chef is not as vital as White House Chief of Staff. Furthermore, if Smith were to accept the job, what would become of his varied business and philanthropic interests — Table 52, Common Threads, new restaurant concepts he's developing in New York and DC?

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