Oprah's Chef Art Smith Cooks with Campfire Cafe's Johnny Nix

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What do Oprah Winfrey's Chef Art Smith and Johnny Nix have in common other than a passion for cooking? Both share a belief that the tradition of preparing, cooking and sharing a meal brings people together. Whether in the kitchen with Art, or outdoors over a campfire with Johnny, the simple pleasures of cooking for friends and family are common ground for both.

Art Smith’s highly acclaimed, award winning cookbook, Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family, has prompted a sequel, the much-anticipated Back to Family. During the recent holidays, Art came across an episode of Campfire Café on Chicago public television, and contacted the producer to learn more about host Johnny Nix and the show’s open fire cooking format. Appreciation of the television show and ensuing first cookbook, Over The Open Fire, resulted in an invitation from Art for Johnny’s participation in a chapter of his sequel, Back to Family.

The last week of March, Johnny travels to Florida to meet Art’s delightful family at a huge family reunion, and give a quick lesson on open fire cooking. Perhaps Johnny will show Art how to cook his signature version of Hummingbird Cake, or “to-die-for” Sweet Potato Pecan Waffles, over the open fire. “There’s certainly nothing about cooking or recipes that I can teach Art,” admits Johnny. “But I’m really looking forward to helping him prepare some of his mouth-watering recipes in a Dutch oven over a good hickory-wood fire”.

Not claiming to be a chef, host Johnny Nix specializes in adapting any recipe for open fire cooking. He teaches millions of Campfire Cafe viewers how to cook succulent roasted meats, hearty stews, delicious casseroles, or seemingly complex desserts while enjoying the outdoors. Cooking over an open fire requires heat control know-how that today’s cooks simply do not learn, since this traditional way of cooking has been rendered obsolete by modern conveniences.

“Open fire cooking is a method that teaches a basic life skill everyone – especially kids – should learn”, says Johnny. Art’s dedication to teaching children through cooking to value each other and discover universal understanding regardless of culture, race, or geographic location, compliments the goals of Campfire Café and Johnny Nix in ways worth exploring.

Campfire Cafe airs nationwide on DISH (channel 9409) and DIRECTV (channel 379) weekly on RFD-TV network.

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Pamela Alford
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