Monday, June 9, 2008

Congrats chef Holly Smith!

Winner of this year's James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Northwest. 

The chef behind Cafe Juanita had been a finalist for the past four years, so it was definitely time for her to win the prestigious honor. 

I followed "live" blogging of the event on, but the entertaining chatter didn't go beyond NYC stuff. I've eaten at Momofuku Noodle Bar, so I was excited to see chef David Chang recognized as best chef in the center of the restaurant universe. (If you go, do not miss the shrimp and grits with Tennessee bacon.

Don't you think it's about time Food Network started telecasting these "Oscars" of the restaurant world? Would you watch?   


Marco P said...

Contratulations to chef Holly Smith. But Leslie: do you realize that there is nothing Italian in her menu?

E' una mortificazione per noi Italiani vedere che i giornalisti di gastronomia di Seattle non prendono mai le difese della vera cucina italiana - moderna o tradizionale she sia - ma comunque inventata da noi Italiani.

Holly may be the best chef in the universe but she should stop to advertise her caffe' as an Italian restaurant until she learns what Italian food and culture represent for Italy and for the Italians.


Tio Pep said...

Give me a break. Holly is doing what many younger chefs are doing in great food towns like Alba, Asti, Milan and Roma, which is to riff on or refine traditional, classic dishes. She never claims that her restaurant is Italian, but rather Italian inspired.

And having eaten quite extensively in Piemonte, I would argue that Holly gets it pretty close. The concept of judging a restaurant based on how 'true' their cuisine hews to its roots is nearly as absurd as criticizing a reviewer for her presumed inability to read Italian.

Marco P said...

Cio’ che fanno gli chef italiani in Italia e’ ben altra cosa!
When Americans try to copy what Italian chefs do in Italy, they do contemporary American food in the best case scenario. Nothing wrong with that but it cannot be classified as Italian.
No matter how much you like Holly’s food and no matter how much you have traveled in Piedmont, you cannot call American cuisine “Italian inspired” because the inspiration can come only from a close link to the culture. This problem is common to almost every Italian restaurant in Seattle given that they are generally run by Americans, Greeks, Asians or others. There is no way one can learn techniques and ingredients of the Italian cuisine by reading English books or attending American schools. is just not possible.
A couple of webpage can explain this better: