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SAVOR Less is more for out chef Art Smith during pandemic
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-06-09

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When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Just ask Art Smith.

During the coronavirus pandemic—the culinary expert who has cooked for luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, the Obamas and Nelson Mandela—has employed a healthful plan that has resulted in him losing 80 pounds in four months.

The weight loss is due to a change in dietary habits and workout routine—implemented by trainer/rugby player Lucas Cancelier, who stopped by the Florida home of Smith and his family ( including husband Jesus Salgueiro ) months ago. Cancelier has ended up being quarantined with the Smith/Salgueiro household since then.

And so that others can become more healthy, Smith has an Instagram cooking show ( Healthy Comfort—the same name as his 2013 book ) and Cancelier has posted workout routines on his Instagram account. ( Their accounts are @thechefartsmith and @iamdapower, respectively. )

"It's time to show multiculturalism, how people can come together and make delicious food," Smith told Windy City Times. "I think the message should be loud and clear."

Smith's weight-loss journey started when Cancelier stopped by from Spain on his way to his native Argentina. However, the visit coincided with a pivotal ( and depressing ) point in Smith's life: He had just turned 60.

"I was just at a point," he said. "But the way you feel about yourself is the way you see the world."

However, this recent weight loss is not the first. A few years ago, Smith lost more than 100 pounds.

"After that weight loss, I got a show after appearing on Top Chef Masters," Smith said. "Then, I filmed 18 episodes—but it turned out they didn't like the new skinny Art Smith, and cancelled the show." That, Smith added, resulted in him basically eating his feelings—and eventually putting on the weight he had dropped.

Then he was offered another show—this time with him and singer Toni Braxton cooking together. However, that project fell through as well.

However, Smith is back on a healthful track. Regarding the Healthy Comfort show, people can watch Smith ( and also learn ) to cook dishes like salmon croquettes as well as shrimp and grits. "It's part entertainment, but people are learning to make dishes. People send me photos of the dishes and share memories. [Cancelier] also loves to cook, but he does healthy versions."

Smith's workout regimen consists of light daily workouts, Cancelier said. "You only need about 30 minutes a day—but that goes by so fast," he added. "After training, you feel better. People have told me how much better they feel after two weeks."

Smith also talked with Windy City Times that he's had women mentor him his entire life, including his mother, Leela Curry ( who Smith said "raised him as a child" ) and Winfrey. Curry "would see the riots in the late '60s and say, 'People have got to learn to love.'" Winfrey, Smith said, told him to "look and see how fortunate" he was.

As for the protests that have swept the world over the past days, they also weighed on his mind. "Sometimes it takes horrible things to get people to pay attention," he said. "Gay people have [also] been used to drama—but it's like Michelle Obama says: 'When they go low, we go high.' If we stay in that place where nothing is accomplished, then nothing gets better. Someone said to me, 'Pride is a protest, and it started with a protest—the Stonewall Riots.' It's about equality for everyone.

"The Florida town I live in has a very diverse population, but 30 percent lives in poverty. So it's me, Jesus and the four kids living in this rural town. The only way to get people around the table is to feed them, you know? During the civil-rights era, you had the church women who fed all those people. I always say, 'There are no angry people—just hungry people.'

"I have something to say. It just involves feeding people."

Shifting to dining spots, he said, "With these small restaurants, it's like you're reopening them. You have to train staff. But so many communities have been created or improved by having small restaurants there. That's why we need to keep them. They're like churches or sporting events, where people come together."

And don't worry about Smith losing his Chicago connections. He and Salguiero still have their Kenwood home, and Smith is still involved with Gold Coast spots Blue Door Kitchen and Chicago q. However, he ended things on a tantalizing note: "I have another restaurant coming to Chicago—and it's a big one."

*******

Also, here are a couple recipes Smith provided to Windy City Times readers:

1 ) Cauliflower olive-oil mash:

Ingredients:

—1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped

—Kosher salt

—1/4 cup chicken stock

—2 tablespoons grated Italian cheese, such as Parmesan

—1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

—1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt

—1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped

—Freshly ground black pepper

—Fresh rosemary, chopped, for garnish

Directions: Place cauliflower in simmering chicken broth and cook till tender. Strain out save liquid and mash or puree. Add ingredients and mix well and serve.

2 ) Crispy baked Southern catfish

Ingredients:

—1 cup of low fat mayo

—1/4 cup of mustard

—2 egg whites beaten

—1 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce ( or another hot sauce )

—4 skinless and boneless fish filets,

—1 1/2 cups multigrain or whole-wheat panko bread crumbs

—3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese.

—2 tsp ground black pepper.

—1 1/2 tsp onion powder.

—1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

—1/4 cup chopped herbs, parsley,basil,chives

Directions:

Bowl 1

Mix mayo, mustard, beaten egg and hot sauce

Bowl 2

Mix all dry ingredients and herbs

Step 3

Place fish filets In wet mixture lightly cover

Step 4

Place in dry ingredients

Step 5

Bake in a pre-heated oven set to 400 degrees.

Bake on olive oil-sprayed sheet pan.

Serve with cauliflower olive oil mash.


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