Six Minutes with a Chef: Holly Smith
By Christina Dudley, contributing writer to Bellevue.com
This Week's Featured Chef at the Bellevue Farmers Market
If you've ever been guilty of trolling the Costco or Trader Joe's aisles in hopes of free samples, consider going local and sustainable this week with a visit to our own Bellevue Farmers Market. Farmers and vendors enthusiastically slice, chop, grill, skewer, and spread their wares, everything from cheeses to fruits to smoked salmon to fudge sauce. Come hungry. Seriously.
And for those samplers in the know, the occasional chef demos at the Market are like Thanksgiving dinner. Top-notch chefs from popular restaurants in our area whip fresh, seasonal Market ingredients into wondrous gastronomic creations and then share them with the audience. There's usually enough for seconds, so bring those Groucho Marx glasses so you can scooch to the end of the next row before the tray gets passed down.
This week Bellevue Farmers Market welcomes Chef Holly Smith of Kirkland's renowned Café Juanita. Chef Holly's food and restaurant have been featured in everything from the Seattle Times to Gourmet and the Food Network. Seattle Magazine calls her food "Northern Italian cooking by way of Northwest farms," and Seattle Metropolitan rated Café Juanita among the "10 Very Best Restaurants of 2009."
Trying not to let her mouth-watering get out of control, the UrbanFarmJunkie hit Chef Holly up with a few questions.
Bellevue Farmers Market
Any idea what you'll be demo-ing at the Bellevue Farmers Market this week?
I'm thinking tomatoes in some fashion, but Fava Beans with Pecorino comes to mind as well, since there are amazing local favas showing up.
How flexible is the Cafe Juanita menu? What use do they make of seasonal or local ingredients?
We are all about using local and seasonal year round. Summer is the easiest and most abundant. The menu changes very organically as farmers bring in new items.
Which dishes are most popular in the restaurant?
The rabbit is a staple entree and one that has not changed much at all--although it does benefit from fresh peas when in season. Risotto is also a favorite as well as our Brodo, a rich poultry broth infused with the rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano. That is a great vehicle for fresh local greens and beans.
Does Cafe Juanita purchase any ingredients from Bellevue Farmers Market or other markets? If yes, what, and from which farmers/vendors?
We pick up often from various farms but luckily most will deliver to us on their way to market.
Anything you would particularly like us to highlight in Bellevue.com or UrbanFarmJunkie?
Our commitment to local and sustainable farming and supporting farmers in this area. Just the love we have for food and service.
And how about a simple recipe idea for the home cook, using in-season ingredients?
When Romano beans are in season--which should be any moment--I blanch and shock them and then reheat them gently with a little brodo and a paste made from roasted garlic and anchovy--a little toasty butter-seasoned bread crumb over the top, and it is stellar. I am going to pair those with garlic aioli and a poached duck egg and bottarga in the restaurant this week.
(Would like to ask about the paste made from roasted garlic and anchovy and what the heck bottarga is, but her stomach is rumbling embarrassingly) Uh--thank you for your time, Chef Holly. Look forward to your demo.
Catch Chef Holly at 4pm this Thursday, July 22! The Thursday BFM is a great way to kick off our Bellevue Arts weekend, especially since the Saturday Market will not be held. Stock up on your local fruits, meats, seafood, cheese, and specialty products, and bring your own questions for Chef Holly.
Chef Holly Smith at Bellevue Farmers Market - July 22, 2010
All photos © Bellevue.com
(Click any photo)
Published: July 2010
Local writer Christina Dudley blogs for the Bellevue Farmers Market as the Urban Farm Junkie and is the author of two novels, Mourning Becomes Cassandra and The Littlest Doubts. She can be reached at email@example.com.