I recently had the pleasure of selling Cindy Pawlcyn the Miramonte in St. Helena which is currently undergoing major renovation.
“I never really wanted to do anything else,” says chef and restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn. Her mother taught her to cook at an early age, but she said that her eyes opened to a new world of possibilities when a friend showed her how to cook Mexican food. It was simple and fun and quite different from anything she’d eaten growing up in Minnesota. By the time she was in high school, Cindy was working five nights a week for a local catering company and taking cooking classes from a Cordon Bleu chef.
After earning her Restaurant Management degree at the University of Wisconsin, she traveled to Paris to study at La Varenne and Cordon Bleu. Back in the mid-West, she worked as a sous-chef at several Chicago restaurants, including the renowned Pump Room, before moving to the Napa Valley. Cindy was the opening chef at Meadowood, then worked under Bruce le Favour at Rose and le Favour before opening her own restaurant, Mustards Grill, in 1983. Caroline Bates, writing in Gourmet, said at the time, “What makes Mustards heads above most of its counterparts is Cindy Pawlcyn.”
Simplicity and fun seem to be two of Cindy’s watchwords. As executive chef and founder of a dozen restaurants, including Fog City Diner, Bix, Roti, Rio Grill, and the Buckeye Roadhouse, she is often credited with reinventing American food in a playful setting. Her excitement and enthusiasm for her work are unmistakable.
Cindy is an inductee of Who’s Who of Cooking in America. She has been twice nominated for the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in California, is the recipient of the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence, and the Fine Beverage and Food Federations Career Achievement Award. The Bay Area looks forward to her new St. Helena culinary venture.