Cindy Pawlcyn Le Cordon Bleu

Cindy Pawlcyn has pioneered fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable wine-country cuisine since opening Napa Valley's legendary Mustards Grill in 1983. 

Cindy Pawlcyn has pioneered fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable wine-country cuisine since opening Napa Valley's legendary Mustards Grill in 1983. A master chef of national acclaim, she is the founder/owner of three of Napa Valley's most beloved restaurants: Mustards Grill, the popular and eclectic Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, and the vibrant Brassica Mediterranean Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Born in Minneapolis, Cindy grew up in an accomplished culinary family where fresh ingredients were integral to every meal. "One of my earliest culinary memories is being spoon fed walnuts and honey by my dad," she says. She also recalls, "sitting in the backyard garden with a salt shaker while my dad picked perfectly ripe tomatoes hot off the vine."

"My father had a green thumb and instilled in me a love of garden-fresh flavors," she says. "I've had a garden everywhere I've lived – from the herb window box in Chicago to the half-acre organic culinary garden at my Napa Valley home."

Cindy began working at a local cooking school at age 13. She ran a catering business through high school and went on to earn a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Her training also includes courses at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris.

In 1979, Cindy moved to San Francisco to work at MacArthur Park restaurant. Drawn to the paradise that is Napa Valley, she was soon tapped as the opening chef for world-renowned Meadowood Resort. Cindy has been a partner in the creation of over a dozen iconic San Francisco Bay area restaurants, including Fog City Diner, Bix, Roti, Betelnut, Buckeye Roadhouse and Tra Vigne, in addition to her own Napa Valley establishments.

Cindy has authored four well-received cookbooks: The James Beard Award-winning Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook; Fog City Diner Cookbook; Big Small Plates and Cindy Pawlcyn's Appetizers. Her fifth, Cindy's Supper Club, will debut in spring 2012.

An inductee of Who's Who of Cooking in America and the DiRoNa Hall of Fame (Distinguished Restaurants of North America), Cindy has been nominated twice for the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in California, appeared in the first season of Bravo's "Top Chef: Masters" in 2009, is the recipient of the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence and of the Fine Beverage and Food Federation's Career Achievement Award. She has earned high acclaim from the most exacting critics, and more importantly, has a devoted national and local following.