You may recognize chef Art Smith's name from his stint on Top Chef Masters, his affiliation with Oprah Winfrey or his other restaurants: Table fifty-two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C. Tomorrow marks the opening of Southern Art, Smith's first Atlanta endeavor, which is located in the old Au Pied de Cochon space. During an interview with Eater Atlanta, Smith said he was well aware how another Southern Chef opening another Southern restaurant in Atlanta might be perceived. However, he looks at his Atlanta concept a bit differently - specifically when it comes to health, which he is very keen on promoting at Southern Art.
This is not a surprise considering he recently lost a great deal of weight and has dealt with diabetes for much of his adult life. Smith spoke about those issues (in both the third and first person) and the perception of Southern cuisine when discussing Southern Art:
The man just lost 120 lbs and the reality is that he is Southern man that loves southern food, but also understands the importance of making healthy choices. Even though I've had my struggles with weight - and still do- in my South, there was always a salad at the table. Some people will say that in the South they consider mac and cheese a vegetable. There are these assumptions that are not true. Many gluten intolerant and diabetic people feel like they can't eat Southern food, but if you have these challenges, you can come absolutely come eat in my restaurant.Speaking of the menu, Smith is sourcing his goods from as many producers as possible considering the scale of goods a hotel restaurant needs. He is also working with Will Harris of Harris Ranch to co-produce his own herd. "Have you ever heard of a chef having his own herd?!" said Smith. Since it is located in a hotel, Southern Art will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It will also provide room service for the hotel. Smith has hired chef Anthony Gray to helm the kitchen accompanied by pastry chef Meredith Miller. Brian Stanger will serve as head mixologist and bar manager and Alain Zemmour as the general manager. In addition to Southern Art, Smith is opening his Bourbon Bar in the adjacent space because: "there's a helluva lot of bourbon out there that not many people have heard of. And it's small batch so why not do it?" The bar will serve nibblies (tartine style sandwiches, ham biscuits, etc.), have monthly cigar rolling, and bourbons on tap.
· Southern Art [Official Site]