Art Smith

*Oprah Winfrey gave her former personal chef a $250,000 check for his 50th birthday.

The money, however, goes straight to Art Smith’s non profit Common Threads, a healthy eating program for children that was inspired by the new nationwide initiative launched by another of his high profile clients, first lady Michelle Obama.

Smith says he’ll formally announce Winfrey’s $250,000 donation during a party hosted tonight by celebrity chef Nigella Lawson. “We’re going to educate a lot of children about taking care of themselves,” Smith told the Associated Press late Friday at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

“I’d like to take this money to create healthy programs for children that mirror the first lady’s program,” said Smith, who recently lost 90 pounds thanks to his own healthy eating reforms.

Earlier this month, Michelle Obama announced her “Let’s Move” campaign, an effort to teach children healthier eating habits and to get better foods into school lunch programs. Smith’s program runs more than 20 afterschool programs around the country. The programs teach children how to cook healthy, ethnically diverse foods.

“What an amazing birthday present that I can share with so many friends,” Smith said.