After five years cooking in such acclaimed restaurants as Green and Oliveto in the San Francisco Bay Area, Claire Smith returned to her native Houston, Texas, to replant her roots. A graduate of Rice University with a degree in Art and Art History, Smith says that she spent far more time and energy working restaurant jobs during college than she ever did on her school work. She knew then that her life's calling was in the culinary field.
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Smith has worked alongside many advocates of the practice of utilizing fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Annie Sommerville of Greens and Rich Hackett, founding chef of Oliveto and chef/owner of Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe, are a couple of the major influences on Smith's commitment to hearty and fresh cooking that highlights natural, intense flavors.
Critics championed the opening of the Daily Review Cafe in November of 1994, agreeing that the time had come for seasonal, fresh, and inventive restaurant dining in Houston. The Daily Review received praise not only from the Houston dining public, but from national magazines such as Esquire (Best New Restaurant of 1995), Travel & Leisure (Women a the Helm), Metropolitan Home, and Restaurants & Institutions and from noted food writers like John Mariani and Alison Cook.
In 2000 Smith closed Daily Review, taking off on a two year coast-to-coast culinary adventure. But in 2003, Houston welcomed her back with open arms, when she opened her new restaurant Shade to rave reviews Her contemporary, comfortable eatery highlights what has been described as "global home cooking."
Shade earned Smith the Restaurateur of the Year Award from My Table Magazine in 2004 and was named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the state by Texas Monthly. In 2009, Smith opened Canopy, in the Montrose area, which is fast becoming the neighborhood place.