Celebrity chef gets huge birthday gift

Celebrity chef Art Smith, the owner of Capitol Hill's Art and Soul restaurant turns 50 this week, and he's getting a big birthday gift.

On Monday Smith will announce that Oprah Winfrey, whose patronage first catapulted Smith into the national spotlight, has agreed to donate $250,000 to the non-profit Common Threads, which Smith founded. The goal of the gift, Smith told the Associated Press, is to "create healthy programs for children that mirror [First Lady Michelle Obama's] programs."

Mrs. Obama recently launched her first major policy initiative, "Let's Move!", a government-wide effort aimed a promoting healthy eating and exercise among children.

Obama is longtime fan of Smith's cooking: She and President Barack Obama spent their first Valentine's Day as the country's first couple at Smith's Chicago restaurant, Table Fifty-two. He was also mentioned as a potential candidate for White House chef.

"We're going to educate a lot of children about taking care of themselves," Smith said of Winfrey's gift. Both Smith and Winfrey have experienced first-hand the difference a healthy diet can make in a person's life. After changing his eating habits, Smith lost more than 90 pounds. Winfrey's weight has fluctuated throughout her career.

Winfrey's endorsement of Mrs. Obama's latest project may sound a little like deja vu to the first lady; the talk show host was one of her husband's most influential supporters during the 2008 presidential campaign.

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