The Hearty Boys Bio

The Hearty Boys, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, are nationally recognized television hosts, trend-setting caterers, dynamic restaurateurs, and esteemed cookbook authors with little more than "accidental food expertise." In 2005, they earned the respect and accreditation of the food industry when they won the first season of Food Network's hit series Food Network Star. This led to their successful Food Network series, Party Line with the Hearty Boys. The Hearty Boys went on to open HB: A Hearty Boys Spot, one of Chicago's leading restaurants, as well as author a well-received cookbook titled Talk With Your Mouth Full, The Hearty Boys Cookbook (Stewart, Tabori and Chang). Talk With Your Mouth Full was released in October 2007 and is now in its second printing.

The Hearty Boys believe, first and foremost, that entertaining should be fun, for both guests and host. Dan and Steve's philosophy centers around taking the anxiety out of cooking for company by sharing their completely accessible — but still impressive — recipes, stories of successes and failures, and of course the little black book of tricks culled from working in the trenches.

A fortuitous combination of a large ethnic family, trying to make ends meet as actor/waiters in New York City, and a deep and lasting love of food created the DNA of the Hearty Boys food philosophy. The mystery series The Hardy Boys was the inspiration and namesake for a café and sandwich shop that opened in the resort town of Bethel, Maine, in the mid-'90s. A catering business soon followed, and after honing the fine art of food preparation and presention, Dan brought The Hearty Boys catering business to Chicago.

What started off in 1999 as a catering business from an 8'x8' apartment kitchen has grown in multiple directions. In 2003, The Cafe at Hearty Boys opened in Chicago's popular Lakeview neighborhood. This new enterprise also found The Hearty Boys offering popular cooking classes and private dinners in the cafe's second-floor space. In 2005, The Hearty Boys' story evolved once more when they opened their new restaurant, HB: A Hearty Boys Spot. Lauded by Chicago Magazine as one of the city's top 10 hot spots, the restaurant has been an enormous success, and many of its recipes are found in their cookbook. Their newest venture, HBTV, is an interactive on-camera cooking class, along the lines of "cooking karaoke." It is the only one of its type in the U.S.

The Hearty Boys have spread their vision of accessibile entertaining through multiple seasons of Food Network's Party Line with The Hearty Boys, Kathy Griffin's My Life on the D List, Fine Living Network's Your Reality Checked, Girls Night Out and Q on the Move. In addition they have had numerous appearances on CBS' The Early Show, were regular contributors to NBC's In The Loop and appeared on regional morning shows across the country. Their recipes and insider tricks of the trade have been featured through webcasts, satellite media tours and radio. Print includes features in Life magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Chicago Magazine, Glamour, Real Simple, Woman's Day, Crains and a host of other national publications. Metrosource Magazine was quoted as saying, "Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith are poised to become a cottage industry in the mold of Emeril Lagasse or Bobby Flay."

Partners in life as well as business, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh reside in Chicago with their son Nate.

Next Up

Hearty Chili, Lightened Up

Yes, it's easy to load up your chili with calories and fat, but here are easy steps to make a pot for under 400 calories per serving.

Po Boy Recipes

This page should redirect you to Food Network Magazine's survey. If it does not redirect you automatically, click here

Donatella Arpaia Bio

Donatella Arpaia is the trailblazing attorney-turned-culinary mogul and has appeared on multiple shows as a judge. Find out more about her on Food Network.

Amanda Freitag Bio

Amanda Freitag is a judge on Chopped, has battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and she competed for the title of America's Next Iron Chef. When she was growing up in New Jersey, Amanda's passion for food was fostered by everyone from her grandparents to her high school home economics teacher. They encouraged her to pursue a cooking career and to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. After she graduated from culinary school, Amanda's first position in a New York City kitchen was as rotissier and garde manger at Vong under the guidance of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It was there that she was introduced to marrying French technique with Southeast Asian ingredients and flavors. In 1994, Amanda began working with Chef Diane Forley at Verbena, where she rose quickly through the ranks to become the restaurant's chef de cuisine. Forley taught Amanda the importance of using local, organic ingredients and introduced her to the Union Square Greenmarket. During her time at Verbena, Amanda realized how much she had yet to learn about the culinary world, and in 1999 she traveled extensively through France and Italy to explore the bountiful markets and progressive restaurant scenes. While in Paris, she spent two weeks working under Chef Alain Passard at his venerable Arpège restaurant. While her time there was short, the lessons she learned were life-changing. At Arpège, Passard insisted on the freshest ingredients, so there was nothing left in the walk-in refrigerators at the end of service besides butter. This eye-opening experience helped Amanda to further develop her deep appreciation of superlative ingredients and the flavors of the Mediterranean region. Upon returning to New York, Amanda worked at some of the city's most-popular restaurants, including Cesca, where she cooked alongside Tom Valenti as his chef de cuisine and earned two stars from The New York Times. Following Cesca, Amanda accepted the position of executive chef at Gusto in the West Village, where her food was met with critical acclaim. In January 2008, Amanda took over as the executive chef at The Harrison in Tribeca. Over the three years that she helmed the kitchen, The Harrison received numerous accolades from local and national media, including a two-star review from The New York Times. Amanda's first cookbook, The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef's Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking, was released in September 2015. When she is not in the kitchen, Amanda enjoys traveling the world and collecting restaurant menus to add to her ever-growing collection.

Latest Stories