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UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

17th Annual Signature Fundraising Event

Taste for a Cure
Friday, April 20, 2012
Beverly Wilshire Hotel

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Cindy Pawlcyn
Mustards Grill | Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen | Brassica Restaurant

Cindy Pawlcyn

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.

As culinary partner at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cindy shares her signature "farm-to-table" philosophy through delicious, healthful dishes that feature locally-grown ingredients. As at all her restaurants, offerings of wild-caught and farmed seafood adhere to the highest standards of the highly-esteemed Seafood Watch program.

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 sitting in the backyard garden with a salt shaker while my dad picked perfectly ripe tomatoes hot off the vine,” she says. “I can still taste the fresh, warm tomatoes seasoned with a sprinkling of salt.”

“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.” Indeed, bountiful organically-farmed culinary gardens at Mustards Grill and Brassica yield utterly fresh produce for all three restaurants.

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, after honing her skills at the Pump Room in Chicago and other esteemed Midwest restaurants, 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.

Her vast culinary library serves as a source of inspiration. Over 2,000 tomes fill three rooms and a tent-bungalow at Cindy’s home. The astonishing collection includes international and regional cookbooks on everything from cheese making to fish, rhubarb to bread, and features luminaries from M.F.K. Fisher to Salvador Dali.

And she has authored four of her own 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.

Guests at Cindy’s restaurants benefit from her attention to authenticity of technique, flavor combinations and cultural heritage. Cookbooks are one essential component of her research, while extensive gastronomic travels add first-hand context and experience to the mix.

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.

Fortunately for her fans, Cindy remains intimately involved in the kitchen operations at each of her restaurants.

When not in her restaurants or traveling, she can often be found entertaining friends and family, working in her garden, writing, or creating pottery in her ceramics studio. A sampling of Cindy’s handmade dishes is on display in custom cupboards throughout Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, and many are used as serving pieces there and at Mustards Grill.


mustards grill

        Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen  



Last updated: 3/20/2012 4:55:43 PM