Holly Smith's Northern Italian inspired cooking at Cafe Juanita and Poco Carretto Gelato has received both local and national acclaim. Holly is the 2008 James Beard Foundation winner for Best Chef Northwest and Cafe Juanita has been recognized by Gourmet Magazine, Top 50 Restaurants, Robb Report, Top 57 Fine Dining, Best Italian Restaurants from Wine Spectator, four stars from The Seattle Post Intelligencer, as well as a nomination for "Best Restaurant Service" from the James Beard Foundation 2009.
Chef Smith is from Monkton, Maryland. After course work in political science at Colby College she traveled and found her true passion in restaurants and cooking. While enrolled in Baltimore International Culinary College Holly completed an externship with Master Chef Peter Timmons in Ireland. Holly began her career in Baltimore at the Milton Inn, moving to Seattle and working with Tom Douglas at the Dahlia Lounge as sous chef and then opening Brasa with Tamara Murphy as chef de cuisine. Throughout her tenure at each restaurant, and enhanced by trips to Italy, she found her true cooking inspiration in the flavors and foods of Northern Italy.
In 2000 Holly's dream became a reality with the opening of Cafe Juanita. The restaurant is dedicated to sustainable practices, a commitment to organics and local sourcing as well as forging relationships with artisan Italian producers and winemakers. This passion and dedication to the whole restaurant experience garnered rave reviews from the very early days in publications such as Food and Wine Magazine, 10 restaurant stars – Top Italian Lists, Esquire Magazine, Top 21 restaurants in the USA 2000. In 2008, Holly launched Poco Carretto Gelato enabling her to further her connection to local farmers while showcasing authentic gelato from organic ingredients.
As Chef Owner of Poco Carretto Gelato and Cafe Juanita, Holly strives to use a modern and local approach bringing food and wine together in innovative and dynamic ways.