I love fried chicken. I mean, who doesn’t?
I’m also a fan of chefs. Seriously, I look at chefs the way many people look at rock stars. And
one I’m a huge fan of is Chef Art Smith. Partly because I’m from Chicago and though he’s from
Florida, Chef Art is something of a local celebrity in the Windy City. It’s not uncommon to hear
him referred to as “Oprah’s Chef, Art Smith.”
But I would argue being Oprah’s personal chef is not even his biggest accomplishment. For me,
it’s slides way down the list, below being a great family man, a philanthropist, an alumni of the
Disney College Program, and perhaps his greatest accomplishment – creator of the Thigh High
He also happens to be the namesake and owner of Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida
Kitchen & Southern Shine at Disney Springs.
Although I have to admit, the first time Tim and Jenn visited Homecomin’ – waaay back when
there was still a G at the end – they almost lost me right away.
The problem is, I hate tomatoes. I love tomato sauce, tomato soup, and even salsa, but I hate
whole tomato. And the first thing they ate in the video was fried green tomatoes. I know it’s a
southern staple. Heck, they even named a movie after the dish. But I just . . . ugh.
I did love the Solo cup-style formed beer glasses Tim pointed out. Admittedly I didn’t even
notice that fun detail, because when I ate there, I ordered a moonshine flight with candied
pecans and a pickle juice back (the house made HFK Pineapple Shine was my favorite.) After all,
where do you think the “Southern Shine” part comes from?
Watching Tim and Jenn’s vlog, I was quickly convinced I should at least try the place, especially
once they got their entrees. Jenn’s shrimp and grits looked both inventive and delicious. And
that side of mac n cheese looked really rich and cheesy. Macaroni and cheese is like a religion
to some folks. For the record, my grandma made the best homemade mac n’ cheese in history.
But then I too tasted the Momma’s Mac and Cheese at Homecomin’ and the first thing out of
my mouth was “That’s the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.” Forgive me, Gram. And I still feel
that way. In fact, I’ve said it before, but every other restaurant that makes macaroni and cheese
might as well just quit and try something else, because they won’t ever touch Chef Art’s.
But it was during a subsequent to trip to Homecomin’ that Tim ordered what would become
one of my favorite chicken dishes, if meals period, in the world, and that’s Chef Smith’s Thigh
High Chicken Biscuits.
Three perfectly fried chicken thighs (the best and most overlooked part of the bird) garnished
with bread and butter pickles and topped with a magical hot honey drizzle, sandwiched
between homemade biscuits. Technically it’s an appetizer, but I order it as a meal . . . and I
When you’re planning your next Disney trip, make an ADR for Homecomin’, and order these
with a side of Momma’s Mac and Cheese. I promise you will leave full and happy. Honestly, I
don’t believe you can go wrong with anything on the menu. The fried chicken is excellent. My
son, who as early as age 10 considered himself a fried chicken connoisseur, gave Homecomin’s
two emphatic thumbs up. The highest praise. Of course, the bowl of saltwater taffy at the door
didn’t influence his opinion at all.
Anytime someone asks me where they should eat at Walt Disney World, I immediately tell
them Homecomin’. And given their multiple return visits, I think Tim and Jenn agree. Although
Tim has said that the fried chicken at Olivia’s in Disney’s Old Key West resort, while prepared
and served very differently, could rival Homecomin’s for best chicken on property. I guess one
day we’ll have to put it to a test with a Walt Disney World chicken challenge. I’m definitely
But my money’s on Chef Art.
If you want to check out the menu or learn more about Homecomin’, click here.