Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty
February 15, 2009 03:25 PM

Valentine’s Day not only provided sweet future memories for President and Michelle Obama, but also for Chicago’s Table Fifty-Two chef and co-owner – with Julie Latsko – Art Smith.

“I was honored and humbled that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama chose Table Fifty-Two as their Valentine’s dinner retreat,” Smith tells PEOPLE.

“I have cooked for many former presidents and Hollywood A-listers, and this was a milestone in my career – to serve my first acting President of the United States of America.”

While Smith has cooked for the Obamas “many times” in the past, “having him on his first return to Chicago was awe-inspiring,” the chef says.

A White House spokesman told PEOPLE that the first couple have “said they’ll go home every six weeks or so just to keep everyone grounded and in touch with their friends.”

When they entered the restaurant on Saturday night, the Obamas were applauded by the other guests – prompting Smith to blurt out, “Dinner and a show!”

As for the meal, “crispy catfish and our famous pistachio chicken were the fare of the evening, and I believe I saw a piece of our gooey crunchy pecan pie fly by,” said Smith.

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