Burning Questions

The winning chef shares why he knew his down-home cooking would win the day.

Jul 22, 20090

Bravotv.com: What was your first reaction when you saw who your competitors were?
When I found out about who I was up against? I was like OK, these chefs have years of fancy food experience, being my career has been private for families. Well, my secret weapon is the homeliness of my food. My simple flavors are always well-received.

Bravotv.com: The Quickfire — were you happy with the aisle you got?
Love the aisle I got! Grains, rice, etc. Why? Because you can create a main dish with those foods and it's common knowledge that grains are the wonder food.

Bravotv.com: Why did you decide to go with a risotto?
Everybody loves gooey pudding-like foods, nursery food, sticky delicious, and making that sticky grains salad was an idea that I borrowed from a salad I had at Lotus Star in Las Vegas. The acid in the salad refreshes your palate from the buttery gooey sticky risotto.

Bravotv.com: Now the Elimination: Did sabotage ever cross your mind?
No, because you don't mess with a chef ever. We may make comments, but it's a general well-known rule — don't touch a chef's food or his knives without asking.

Bravotv.com: Why did you decide to make a complete meal on a plate? (i.e. Include a dessert)
Why? Well, I figured it would take the servers time to walk so far between sets and I wanted it easy, and also, to demonstrate that I put a lot of effort into it. OK, was it too much? Well, who doesn't like fried chicken leg, next to some mashed sweet potatoes, and the thigh tastes more polite when it's braised, and one lesson I learn from competing on another popular show, dessert always wins! My peach pie, that I made at Ms. Winfrey's Gospel Brunch, that Barbara Streisand flipped out over surely made them see heaven.

12 comments
Heather
Heather

I watched the show for the first time tonight and was blown away by the quality of character exhibited by the contestants. Why do we not see more exemplary behavior shown by people in these settings? Can we have more shows where people behave with true grace and dignity? The food was mouthwatering and the dishes well displayed. I'd love more closeups of the actual platings and a visual breakdown of the judging categories. Otherwise, this show was hugely entertaining and the added blessing was the donations to charity. Way to go!

Viewer
Viewer

LOVE you Art Smith. You are funny and humble. Would love to taste your food. I live in Nashville and southern cooking IS the BEST.

Viewer Georgia
Viewer Georgia

I was really sorry to see Art Smith eliminated. I enjoyed his humor and warmth. Has anyone tried his recipe for the fried checken leg from last week? I have a question: Is the chicken dredged in the flour and then the egg/buttermilk mixture and then the flour again?

Rob
Rob

I was very sad to see Art leave the show tonight especially with having t cook foods for an individual that doesn't eat! I was also very disappointed in the critics tonite when they chose to ignore the fact that bought ingredients went into 2 dishes but the other chef ends up winning. I have eaten in many 5 star establishments as well and have discovered that most of the ingredients including the so called main dishes were bought before hand frozen and oven/grill ready. I will miss the humor that Art brought to a very good series filled with people who need to take a breathe and realize that they are not Gods but just plain Earthlings like the rest of us who have been given a skill that the rest of us appreciate, and this includes the critics who we all look to for advice and guidance especially in these times of economic lows.

Chrissy Cook
Chrissy Cook

I am a public school art teacher in Appleton, Maine and single mom residing in Camden, Maine. I have to say that my biggest vice these days is that I am a reality television junkie. Great thing that I am not a junk food junkie, as well! I love Top Chef Masters in particular, because I am so inspired by the Chefs and their commitment to the charities that they are playing for and that they have a passion for giving back to make this world a better place. I am inspired by Art Smith and all of the charitable works that he does for children in particular. I have tried to no avail, to find Art on some of the social media sites. I'm curious to find out who he works directly with to fundraise in organizations like the Barbara Bush Foundation for Literacy, Common Threads, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Kid’s Cafe and Oprah's Leadership Academy. I am working on an eCommerce business here in Maine (www.24hourtour.net/eCommerce4) that currently has over 100,000 consumers with a focus on green, eco-friendly, organic products that I can link to non-profits and show them how they can fundraise through the site. I would love some advice. Keep up the great work!

EdenChef
EdenChef

The lamb meatball with a stuffed hard-boiled egg looked awful and did not appeal to me at all. However, I am so pleased to see Art move-on to the next competition round. Arts’ authenticity and love of food oozes through the TV screen...he is such a joy to watch. Watching him, along with other good chefs, has inspired me to follow my passion...the love of creating tasty food. I'm gonna try to reinterpret the lamb meatball w/egg dish.

Wish me well.

Reid55
Reid55

Art is AMAZING. I have eaten his food and this man is an exquisite chef. There isn't a chef on here that isn't exceptional and any of them could take home the prize. But Art is the real deal. His food is delicious and not all foo foo trying to impress people. He works with foods that most folks know an love. He has a strong Southern bent but is always true to form. I have had meals he has prepared on more than one occasion and they are wonderful.

Sorry Sanc tuar y... (I mean NO disrespect) you may not have been interested in food until recently but I have been and have eaten in exceptional restaurants in a dozen or so countries and across this nation and Chef Smith BELONGS among the Masters, because he IS, in fact, a Master at what he does. You don't win the James Beard award being a so-so chef.

David Donne
David Donne

Art,

You seem really talented. But enough with the name dropping! We know you are a celebrity chef, not a "master" in the same sense as some of these others. But mentioning more celebrity names doesn't alter that perception. Just stand behind your food. It's much classier.

southerngirl
southerngirl

You are "confused" and "not interested". That's b/c you're overthinkin' it. Southerners just love good tastin' food. Apparently that's what he offered, good ol' southern food cooked well and with sophistication. Bless your hearts, it's simple.

Beebs
Beebs

I just wanted to say that this was my very favorite show of Top Chef Masters. I was very touched and impressed with all the chefs in this episode. Not to knock any of the other Top Chefs featured this season, but these four chefs were amazing. They all had personality which entertained and were extremely fun to watch. They all showed great respect for each other, I can only hope to come across people like this in my life. Thank You Gentlemen:).

SancTuarY
SancTuarY

So far I haven't seen any chefs in the Masters series, who weren't relatively likable. Art Smith was relatively likable. Did his food seem inspired, like dishes that a well known and very experienced chef would make? I'd have to say no. I'm sure they were perfectly palatable. But for Gael Green to give his elimination round offerings a perfect 5 stars? It seems a bit chintzy to me. Cooking only started to interest me last year; before that, if someone else didn't cook or I failed to stop at a deli or restaurant, I didn't eat. Even I wasn't that interested in Art's offerings. Not bad, but sort of like what I could get from the deli counter at the grocery store. At the end of it, I don't think he deserved to win, or to move on into the finals. And I feel bad saying this because he probably is a very talented, and genuinely nice guy. Up against some of the others (even the three he went head to head with)... I don't feel like he is in the right company. ** Star moment of this series, had to be the downfall of Wylie Dufresne. In this arena he seemed fairly cool, but as a judge on the series? Wow, what an absolute ass! I took a little bit of cruel pleasure in his downfall. Maybe he can be a little more understanding the next time a scared sous chef stands in front of him.

Luke
Luke

I'm a bit confused how Art Smith could have 5 stars from the diners? I have just watched the episode, and in the close-up of the rating cards from the elimination round, 'Dish 1' which was Art's received a "2" from the culinary student marking down scores. (This is 40 minutes into the show) The most Art could have received would have been 4.675 stars, rounded down to 4.5 stars. I can only conclude that the outcome was fixed. If so, shame on you Top Chef producers.