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All You Can Eat

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Topic: Holly Smith

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February 18, 2015 at 12:40 PM

And the Seattle-area semifinalists for the 2015 James Beard awards are…

James Beard Rising Star Chef semifinalist Jay Blackinton last summer at his almost ridiculously picturesque restaurant, Hogstone’s Wood Oven on Orcas. (Maddie Meyer / The Seattle Times) …pretty much exactly who you’d expect, though with a bit of a wild card Pacific Northwest contender for Rising Star Chef of the Year: Jay Blackinton of Hogstone’s Wood Oven on…

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Comments | Topics: Blaine Wetzel, Eric Donnelly, Hogstone's Wood Oven

August 8, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Second Helpings: Cafe Juanita

The big news that Café Juanita will be spiffed up and expanded to include a bar, hopefully by spring, came on the eve of the 3.5-star review that appears today in The Seattle Times. Chef/owner Holly Smith told me she has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Kirkland property, which will allow her to make some long-overdue renovations to the 62-year-old building that once housed a winery.

Holly Smith / Photo courtesy of Cafe Juanita

Holly Smith / Photo courtesy of Cafe Juanita

“I’m super excited. It’s been a long road to get this done,” Smith said. “The look and feel of Cafe Juanita is very much loved so I am not interested in changing that really. Adding a bar means guests can come enjoy us in a more spontaneous relaxed manner, or enjoy a drink before or after dinner. Ideally there will be spring and summer seating on the patio with food coming primarily from the bar for that space….There is a lot to do and not a ton of budget…but I’m optimistic that we will do things on the list that guests can appreciate as well as those things necessary that no one ever sees. It’s a house remodel after all and we all know the realities of old houses!”

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Comments | More in Food and Restaurant News, Restaurants | Topics: Cafe Juanita, Holly Smith

May 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Chefs tell all: How you can become a restaurant VIP

David Chang, whose Momofuku restaurant realm extends from New York to Toronto to Sydney, Australia, has never been known for his softer side. His reputation for shock talk rivals that of Anthony Bourdain. In the May issue of GQ Magazine, the much-lauded, 36-year-old Korean-American chef offered unvarnished advice to diners who aspire to most-favored-customer status in restaurants.

“Would you like priority seating at busy, popular restaurants… servers to remember what you like and don’t… the choicest cuts of meat, the most pristine fish, extra courses on the house?” Chang writes. “Then you want to become a regular—or what we in the business call a PX table, for person extraordinaire. Ultimately, the experience you’re after is ‘soigné.’ That’s chef-speak for culinary perfection from your first drink to your last dessert.”

What are Chang’s tips for soigné-seeking PX wannabes?

“Avoid eating on weekends, when it’s a zoo. The best diners eat Sundays through Thursdays, earlier or later in the evening, so the staff remembers you better…

“Don’t be a (slang for male body part deleted here)….When you become a PX table at one spot, you soon become a known commodity at many others. And if you’re a (male body part) somewhere, they’ll remember you everywhere. Also, don’t do drugs in the bathroom.”

“Order like you know what’s going on…If you request well-done meat and you’re not pregnant, you have no concept of flavor. (Sorry, this is how we think.) If you send a dish back because you think something is ‘off,’ you’re probably wrong. (And the kitchen will hate you for it.) Above all, try dishes from outside of your comfort zone — those are probably the ones the cooks are most proud of.”

How does this advice resonate with Seattle chefs? Read on:

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Comments | Topics: Charles Walpole, David Chang, Derek Ronspies

November 12, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Seattle restaurateurs get real with Nancy Leson at Town Hall: Come on down!

What’s hot? Oh, let’s not! Instead, join Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson Thursday, Nov. 14 at Town Hall when the Seattle Times, in partnership with the Seattle Public Library, hosts a panel of chefs and restaurateurs who’ve been around long enough to know that being great trumps being new. How do they keep it real?…

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Comments | Topics: Cafe Juanita, Hajime Sato, Holly Smith