Cooking Teacher and Newly Minted Cookbook Author Inspires ‘Smart’ Moves in the Kitchen

Debora Smail
Cooking Teacher and Newly Minted Cookbook Author Inspires ‘Smart’ Moves in the Kitchen

Marcia Smart's new cookbook hits shelves Nov. 1.

MARCIA SMART'S KITCHEN mantra is “don’t stress.” It’s the two magic words everyone wants to hear when entertaining this holiday season or whipping up family meals. In her gorgeous first cookbook, Dinner is Done: Simple Weeknight Meals from Smart in the Kitchen, Smart shares her favorite cooking class recipes and practical culinary tips.

“The recipes are geared for simple weeknight meals, knowing that my cooking class students and audience is primarily made up of busy working and over-extended moms who need ideas for dinner that won’t stress them out,” says Smart. Her modern and vibrant creations —from salmon salad Niçoise and blackened redfish tacos to grilled tri-tip with black bean sauce — are ideal for anyone, not just families with kids.

Dinner is Done also includes Smart’s personal story of how Smart in the Kitchen and Smart in the Kitchen School came to be, her philosophy on cooking and ingredients, and the core lessons she teaches in cooking classes. She shares her love of family dinners — remember those? — and tips for bringing everyone together again, like ditching the cell phones for dinner hour.

A graduate of Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco, the California native began her career in the editorial department at Parenting magazine and worked as a producer for and a food editor for San Francisco’s 7x7 magazine. When Smart moved to Houston in 2004 due to her husband’s job, she continued freelance writing while starting her blog,, about meal planning, easy weeknight recipes and healthy family dinners.

Now Smart runs Smart in the Kitchen School, an online cooking school covering all topics from knife skills to pastry making. “The cooking school was created during the pandemic as a way to connect with my students while they were at home, but now it allows me to have students all over the country,” says Smart. She also conducts in-person courses in her home kitchen and demos at Kitchenette Farm, her teaching kitchen near Round Top.

Smart at work styling photos for her cookbook, 'Dinner Is Done.'

Ramen Made Right is among the dishes highlighted in Smart's new cookbook, a first-ever tome by the popular Houston-based cooking-school teacher and food writer.

A recipe for Halibut cooked with lemon and wine appears in the new book, 'Dinner Is Done.'

Vegetarian recipes in the new book include one for Vegetable Bolognese.

Wash everything down with an Aperol Margarita? You can find that recipe, too, in Smart's new cookbook. There's a whole chapter on cocktails.

Her cookbook to debut Nov. 1, which is impressively comprehensive and gift-worthy, has been in the works for about five years. Beautifully photographed by local talent Debora Smail, Smart styled each recipe in the book, which amazingly was her first stab at food styling. From the looks of it, she has a strong knack for this.

Can’t imagine this recipe developer and author would have leisure time, but when she does, travel hits the top of the list. “I’m headed to Paris over Thanksgiving break to visit my oldest daughter and love the inspiration that travel sparks — I always come home with new recipes to develop,” says Smart.

“My mission for Smart in the Kitchen is to help home cooks plan and execute weeknight dinners by sharing how I pull off dinner in the midst of classes, writing, recipe development, course creation and raising teenagers.” She adds, “I want to make it feasible for people to make delicious and simple dinners that don’t require a million ingredients, pans and hours.”

Sign us up for that!

‘Natural Passion’ Makes Fourth-Gen Houstonian Sarah Callaway Sulma a Realty Star

AS A FOURTH-generation Houstonian, Sarah Callaway Sulma has a unique and invaluable view of the city. Her deep seated connection to Houston led her down the path to becoming one the city's most well-respected, and renowned real estate agents. Sarah's natural passion for the real estate industry from a young age led her to where she is today. "I know that it sounds cheesy, but it is the truth! I wanted to be in real estate from a young age," Sarah shares. "The late-great restaurateur, Tony Vallone, put me together with real estate legend, Martha Turner, and Martha put me together with Cathy Cagle. The rest is history-13 years of success and counting!" Now with over 13 years in real estate and $55M+ in residential real estate sales, Sarah brings a rare combination of knowledge, skill, and advocacy to each one of her clients.

Keep ReadingShow less

Lance McCullers, Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker

AN ANNUAL EVENT to raise funds for some of the top Astros players’ favorite causes knocked it out of the park this year, bringing in a record haul of $600,000.

Keep ReadingShow less
People + Places

Hugo Ortega (photo by Gittings Photography)

WHAT STARTED AS a casual watering hole with simple soups, salads and sandwiches — and a popcorn machine in the bar — is now a top restaurant owned by one of the city’s most respected restaurateurs and a James Beard Award-winning chef.

Keep ReadingShow less