Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oprah's former chef has 'big gay wedding' in D.C.

Celebrity chef Art Smith - who was Oprah Winfrey's personal chef for 10 years - was married to his boyfriend of 10 years, artist Jesus Salgueiro, on Saturday, August 21st in the nation's capital. The blessing was witnessed by 485 guests at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.

The day began with Smith and Salgueiro leading all their guests on a four mile run from Smith's own Art and Soul Restaurant on Capitol Hill to the symbol of civil rights and freedoms, and they obtained a protest permit in order to gather at the base of the monument with so many friends and family, who had flown in from all over the world to witness the ceremony. Same-sex marriage has been legal in D.C. since March, and the wedding was officiated by former Oprah show spiritualist Marianne Williamson.

"It was this big gay wedding," Smith said. "But it was a wedding made up our friends from all over the world."

During the ceremony, Williamson recounted the highlights of their love story - Smith proposed to Salgueiro on their first date, leaving the artist wondering if he had just met "a crazy man or the love of his life. He took 10 years to consider."

In those ten years, the couple were brought together by Salgueiro's three bouts with cancer. Their self-penned vows highlighted their deep love for one another.

"I am an artist, but you are the Art — my art," Salgueiro said. "Without you, the canvas of my life would be empty and bare."

"While I may set the table, be it known that you are the banquet and the feast," Smith told Salgueiro.

A reception at Art and Soul followed, with guests sipping Prosecco sparkling wine while a cellist and violinist performed Bach.Guests included designer Nate Berkus (also of Oprah show fame), Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., Fox News broadcaster Chris Wallace, former NFL lineman Warren Sapp, and Chicago drag queen Chilli Pepper. Winfrey did not attend, but her Harpo Productions were one of many corporate donors that helped the couple throw such a lavish party.

Smith also turned to his celeb chef friends and colleagues to create a Southern-inspired wedding menu - Duff Goldman of The Food Network's Ace of Cakes created the nine-tier wedding cake with green fondant, Top Chef's Lee Anne Wong created a fingerling potato salad, Rey Villalobos and John Vermiglio of Smith's Table Fifty-Two restaurant in Chicago contributed buttermilk fried chicken, smoked brisket was prepared by Hill Country's Elizabeth Karmel; and barbecue pulled pork was on the menu from Smith's fellow BBQ Pitmaster judge Myron Mixon.

Though Smith has lost over 100 lbs. in the past year and the morning job was in celebration of his success, he tells People, "Barbecue has always been a favorite of mine," says Smith. "And I said if we don't serve fried chicken, we're going to have a riot!"

In lieu of gifts, the couple requested that donations be made to Common Threads, a charity Smith started teaching low-income kids to cook nutritious meals.

Sources: CHICAGO TRIBUNE / PEOPLE

PHOTO CREDIT: Moshe Zusman Photography LLC

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