He's funny and flirty and, yes, there's about 100 pounds less of him these days. But that doesn't make gay chef Art Smith any less sexy. A fan favorite from Bravo's first season of Top Chef Masters (largely just for being himself), Smith is back on the show's fourth season (premiering Wednesday) along with some tense competition. The Advocate: The first episode and the interstitials make you seem rather flirty. Is that how you are in real life?Art Smith: Is chef Art Smith flirty? Am I a card carrying gay man? [Laughs] Yes I am a very flirty person — my whole family is flirty, where do you think I learned it from? I love people and I have a soft spot for Latinos. My husband, Jesus, can bat his baby blues at you and you will do anything. [Laughs] Well, let me fry up some chicken for you and you will want to move away with me. What’s your best food memory?Well, for everybody it’s what Mom made, but my husband of 13 years. Artist Jesus Salgueiro, eyes like emeralds, but a sting like a bee? LOL He made me the most delicious aprea's, "Venezuelan Corn Cakes," that he handmade and grilled and filled with delicious egg and cheese for breakfast recently in our recent 100-degree weather. Chef Art forgot to air condition his fancy kitchen, but his sweet husband being a tropical boy himself made me a delicious tropical breakfast that made his husband as hot as it was outside. Amore. This isn’t your first go at Top Chef Masters. Does that give you an advantage?No, it’s not my first ride on the pony, but my first was more about my coming out on Top Chef Masters 1. I mean, I was completely open about my sexuality on that first show. I’ve never been in the closet, but let’s say like most gay men I have many closets, and not all of them were open. I am grateful that Top Chef Masters 1 and 4 gave me an opportunity to be me. A funny American gay chef. You will see a lot of me and a lot of funny and you will see a lot of crying. People love it when I cry, and they won't be disappointed. Whether it’s my first or second, it’s a tough competition and I cook with some of the brightest culinary stars in America.
Season four of Bravo's Top Chef Masters brings together 12 award-winning chefs (three of whom are gay) to Las Vegas to compete for $100,000 for the charity of their choice. Along with chef Art Smith, a bevy of queer guest judges (Indigo Girls, The B-52’s), and judge James Oseland, the gay editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine, the ones to watch are gay power couple, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, owners of Arrows, a sustainable dining experience set in a restored eighteenth century Maine farmhouse. Both men are competing for LGBT charities as well: for Frasier it's Outright Lewiston/Auburn, which creates safe and affirming environments for LGBT and questioning youth, while Gaier is competing for Equality Maine Foundation. We caught up with the couple — married for 27 years — to find out what life on Top Chef Masters (which premiers July 25) was really like. The Advocate: The first episode you two set out that you’re partners in life but on the show you’ll be competitors. How did that play out while filming?Clark: Well, being competitors was difficult for us both. We did manage to help each other at times even though we were competing, but frankly all the chefs helped each other from time to time. It was difficult for us because for 27 years we’ve operated as a cohesive team each offering strengths to the other. Having said this, I think it was rewarding for both of us to see that we were both still strong competitors without relying on the other. Mark: Being life partners and competing on set was not a problem for me. I still had Clark there with me and that alone gave me a feeling that things were OK. There were many others competing also so it did not feel like one-on-one with Clark. With Arrows, you and Mark were sort of ahead of your time with the farm-to-table food. What’s next in food?Clark: What’s next in food? I hate this question! Molecular gastronomy, Danish farm-to-table, lobster rolls, and on and on. Good food that is well prepared, that satisfies us in many ways, is eternal. Why does the press always insist on finding a new trend? We started farming and doing things the old way in 1988 and we are still doing it. Now the press is starting to pooh pooh farm-to-table, which is quite frankly absurd. Of course it’s being over played but, eating good food, raised sustainably, should never be a food trend; it should be what we all practice.
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