Chef Art Smith serves up a celebration on the court

Sun. March 3, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Charles Arthur Smith is a chef with a knack for southern cuisine and a heart of gold. Born on March 1, 1960, he recently turned 64 and hosted a private birthday event at SPF, an indoor gaming facility at 2121 North Clybourn Avenue in Chicago, to celebrate the occasion while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Taking a look back at Smith's accomplishments makes it plain to see that he has a great deal to be proud of both in and out of the kitchen.

The Jasper, Florida native returned to his roots many years ago to live with husband Jesus Salgueiro and five adoptive children, but travels regularly including visiting Chicago often. Not only is the Windy City his home away from home after collaborating in the past so closely with Oprah Winfrey, but Chef Art Smith's Reunion restaurant is located at Navy Pier bringing him to town frequently.

Smith's legacy includes cooking for important dignitaries, writing cookbooks and running award-winning restaurants.

Anyone that knows Art knows his heart and he's a champion for a good cause and he founded the non-profit charity centering on children's nutrition called Common Threads in 2003. He's contributed to important events across the globe and can be spotted often at a vendor table having fun at various fundraisers in Windy City on occasion. He always serves up a sample with a smile to donors and uses his celebrity chef status to bring attention to organizations that could benefit from higher awareness.

For four hours on March 2, the openly gay chef brought his friends and family together to party with pickleballs and lob over money to help others. In lieu of gifts, he requested that guests donate to Best Buddies International, the world's largest organization dedicated to assisting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founder of BBI, Anthony Kennedy Shriver spoke on the microphone about his journey in philanthropy and a choir gathered to perform several songs as entertainment. Celebrity trainer Lucas F Cancelier was there to support the new Argentinean chapter of the operation and attendees could learn more about the Best Buddies International vendor booth right on the spot.

Rugby star Ben Cohen and his friends dominated on the pickleball courts in the massive 4,200 square foot space. Politician Toni Preckwinkle joined the festivities later in the program and DJ Moose spun tunes to provide a pleasant atmosphere.

Mouthwatering stations surrounded the courts and included Coalfire Pizza and America's Dog & Burger among several others. Drinks, desserts and a candy station were offered on the west side of the room while food trucks lined up in front.

Generous gift bags at the exit were assembled by Smith's team and packed with goodies including a Reunion gift card and his Smart Bowl System. This talented and generous man not only constantly gives back to the community but treats the people who love him well.

Smith was born to serve the world and will always be remembered for his generosity thanks to birthday extravaganzas such as this one in 2024!

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For pickle play, swing over to and for that crispy chicken crunch try