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Chef Art Smith on Southern Art, frittatas with Oprah and a Tyler Perry-inspired menu item

Art Smith has worked as a chef for Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey but neither trailblazing icon can compare on the perfectionist scale with a certain trombone-playing music major friend Smith went to school with at Florida State University. "Scott Peacock will look for the cow to make the butter! " Smith recalls laughing. "There's a reason why Scott and [late mentor and co-author] Edna [Lewis] were so perfect for each other. She was just as much a perfectionist about food as he was." Smith still remembers the first meal the future Atlanta chef prepared for him at his house in 1983: "He made tortellini for me and it was delicious. He made them from scratch and probably made them five times before he would let me eat them. I remember telling him, 'You need to stop with the trombone lessons and study to become a chef.'" Peacock took Smith's advice. Years later, Smith was working as a chef on a yacht when Peacock called up his old FSU friend for a favor. He had been offered a job working as the executive chef for Georgia governor Joe Frank Harris but couldn't accept the position unless he found someone to take over in the kitchen at the plantation he was working at in Moultrie, Georgia. Would Smith consider filling the position? He agreed. The job at the Georgia governor's mansion would launch Peacock's culinary career. "Scott Peacock truly taught me to appreciate perfection," says Smith. "And that's coming from someone who worked for Martha Stewart. And Scott is a hell of a lot nicer too!"Smith is recalling his 25-year culinary career over a double espresso at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead. The celebrity chef's first Atlanta restaurant, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, opens inside the hotel Wednesday. Smith recently spent an hour with Dish discussing his Southern roots and his goals for Southern Art while dishing up a few delicious stories about cooking for Winfrey, Stewart, and their celebrity friends. The trimmed down author (Smith has recently dropped 120 pounds), "Top Chef Masters" vet and Chicago and Washington D.C. restaurateur jogs each morning down Peachtree Road past his new restaurant. Being back in "the New York City of the South" gives the Jasper, Florida native time to think about his Southern upbringing.

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