CHICAGO— Locally and internationally celebrated Chef Art Smith is thrilled to announce the opening of his new restaurant Reunion, at Navy Pier, Chicago’s iconic lakefront dining, shopping, and entertainment destination. Chef Art Smith’s Reunion Restaurant — located at The Pier’s west entrance — is the sister restaurant to Chef Art’s award-winning Homecomin’ located at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. Reunion features a robust menu of Chef Art’s signature comfort foods, many with a healthier spin, plus a variety of new dishes that lean into the Midwest’s bountiful supply of farm-fresh meat, fruit, and product. The design was inspired by the look and feel of Chef Art’s Chicago home kitchen where his culinary career took flight and will also showcase some of Chef Art’s favorite elements of the city as part of its décor.
“Navy Pier is awe-inspiring and a perfect Chicago destination for everything that it offers both locals and tourists alike including art, music and entertainment, shopping, cultural experiences, and of course, exquisite dining,” said Chef Art Smith. “Reunion is a very special restaurant for me as it was designed with my personal culinary experiences from Chicago in mind and embodies all that makes Chicago and Navy Pier such special places in my heart.”
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Chef Art’s culinary roots can be traced back to his Hyde Park home in Chicago, where he opened his kitchen to celebrities, locals and friends, who fell in love with his cooking. Over the course of his career, Smith has received the culinary profession’s highest awards and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous figures, including local and global icons, such as the Obamas and Oprah Winfrey, to whom he served as the personal, day-to-day chef for about a decade. In 2016, Chef Art—along with partner and Chicagoan Fred Latsko—opened his flagship restaurant, Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, a farm-to-table oasis located in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast. Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, located at Walt Disney World Resort’s Disney Springs, serves guests from around the world and was an inspiration for the design of Reunion.
“When Navy Pier created our Centennial Vision as a framework to reimagine the landmark destination for its second century, among the highest priorities were to welcome dining experiences that reflect the unique and authentic cuisine of Chicago’s neighborhoods and to partner with a local chef of great renown. Chef Art Smith’s Reunion Restaurant accomplishes both,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “We’re thrilled to welcome this culinary master as he joins longtime Navy Pier restaurateurs Manolis and George Alpogianis in this exciting endeavor that expands Navy Pier’s menu and brings to life our vision for showcasing the best of Chicago.”
The ownership and management group for Reunion includes Chicago restauranteurs and brothers, George and Manolis Alpogianis of TAG Restaurants. In addition to being partners, George is the executive chef for the group, while Manolis serves as the director of operations, bringing nearly two decades of diversified restaurant experience and unparalleled passion for people and great food to the management mix. The Alpogianis brothers already have roots at Navy Pier with one of their America’s Dog & Burger fast-service restaurants located inside the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion. The addition of Reunion only strengthens Tag Restaurants’ affection for The Pier, and signifies a new beginning for the Alpogianis brothers and Chef Art.
“The world is still reeling from a tumultuous two-plus years where we experienced a global pandemic leading to extended isolation from one another,” added Chef Art. “It’s my hope that Reunion can be a place we can gather as a community to enjoy one another’s company again over a nice meal in a beautiful, lakeside setting.”
Guests can visit www.reunionrestaurants.com or follow along on Instagram @reunionnavypier or @thechefartsmith.
About Chef Art Smith
Charles Arthur Smith is an award-winning chef, cookbook author, television personality and restaurateur. Smith is the author of three award-winning cookbooks: Back to the Table; Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families; and Back to the Family. He contributed recipes and cooking advice to The Spectrum, the newest book by ground-breaking cardiologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Dean Ornish. In May of 2013 his latest cookbook will be released, Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, with a focus on healthy cooking and healthy living, (published by Harper One 2013). Smith is the founder of Common Threads, a non-profit organization teaching low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals since 2003. He believes that through hands-on cooking and introducing children to fresh foods we can help prevent childhood obesity, reverse the trend of poor eating habits, and learn about diversity and tolerance through the celebration of our cultural differences and our commonalities. Smith was honored by Chicago magazine as a Chicagoan of the Year in 2007. That same year, the prestigious James Beard Foundation named him Humanitarian of the Year. In 2008, Chef Art received an Honorary MBA degree, awarded by the Dedman School of Hospitality at Florida State University. Smith was inducted into the Chicago Culinary Museums Hall of Fame in 2010, and on September 30th of that same year, former Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley, proclaimed it Chef Art Smith Day in Chicago. In May of 2012, Chef Art received an Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University, North Miami Campus. In 2015 Smith launched a non-profit organization, Reunion, Florida Garden and Kitchen School, in Madison FL at the historic Wardlaw-Smith House near his childhood home in Jasper, FL. At Reunion students of all ages will receive free classes on southern cooking traditions, horticulture, and weather forecasting via Weather Stem systems. Follow along on Instagram @thechefartsmith.