She hails from Monkton, Maryland, and started her culinary career at the Baltimore International Culinary College, completing an externship with Chef Peter Timmons in Ireland. However, it was her move to Seattle in 1993 that launched Chef Holly Smith toward the culinary stratosphere.
After working with Tom Douglas at the Dahlia Lounge, Smith made her own mark when she opened Cafe Juanita in 2000. For her, Cafe Juanita allowed her passion for Northern Italian food and wine to bloom. Smith has cultivated a commitment to organic foods and sustainability and loves to showcase ingredients culled from the Pacific Northwest.
While both Smith and Cafe Juanita have received accolades locally and nationally in Gourmet Magazine, the Robb Report and Wine Spectator (along with a four-star review from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer), it’s the multiple James Beard Award nominations that stand out: Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Service and Outstanding Pastry Chef, with the pinnacle being Smith’s win as Best Chef: Northwest in 2008.