Pawlcyn, Cindy

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Pawlcyn, Cindy


Education: Holds a B.A. degree; studied at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne, Paris, France.


Office—Mustards Grill, 7399 St. Helena Hwy., Napa, CA 94558; fax: 707-944-0828. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, chef, restaurateur, and entrepreneur. Mustard's Grill, Napa, CA, owner and executive chef, 1983—; Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, St. Helena, CA, owner and chef. Ran a catering business in high school. Worked in restaurants in Chicago, IL, and Minneapolis, MN, and at MacArthur Park, Meadowwood, Rose and le Favour, all in CA; involved in creating and opening more than a dozen restaurants, including Rio Grill Fox City Diner, Roti, Buckeye Roadhouse, Bix, and Tra Vigne.


Who's Who of Cooking America inductee; James Beard Foundation Award nominee (twice); Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence; Career Achievement Award, Fine Beverage and Food Federation; James Beard Award, for Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook.


Fog City Diner Cookbook, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.

(With Brigid Callinan) Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 2001.

(With Pablo Jacinto and Erasto Jacinto) Big Small Plates, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 2006.


Chef and cookbook author Cindy Pawlcyn is an entrepreneur, restaurateur, and owner of Mustards Grill, a thriving upscale restaurant in Napa Valley, California, and of Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, in St. Helena, California. Her interest in cooking and restaurants began in her teen years, when at age thirteen she started working at a cooking school and restaurant supply store. In high school, she ran her own catering service, and went on to earn a B.A. degree in restaurant management. She trained in prominent French cooking schools, including Cordon Bleu and La Varenne. Throughout her career, she has been involved in the creation and opening of more than a dozen successful restaurants.

In her cookbooks, Pawlcyn often presents recipes for dishes that have helped build her restaurants' reputations. Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook concentrates on the regional California foods and wines that have characterized her popular restaurant since its opening in 1983. Pawlcyn offers detailed recipes covering appetizers, soups, main courses, and desserts, with additional material on sandwiches, side dishes, and appropriate condiments. She also covers techniques for smoking and grilling a number of foods. Some dishes, while seemingly simple, provide a challenge to cooks, and others rely on ingredients and materials prepared from earlier recipes, noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. The dishes Pawlcyn presents "are uniformly fresh and innovative," commented the Publishers Weekly reviewer, who also noted that "alongside each of the recipes are enjoyable descriptions, hints, tips, and anecdotes that enhance readers' knowhow."

Big Small Plates contains recipes for numerous dishes that are small in size but deeply flavorful. The appetizers, finger foods, and other preparations in the book lend themselves to diners who enjoy tapas, sampling from many foods and courses in order to maximize taste and flavor. Pawlcyn provides detailed instructions for preparing gougers, a French puff pastry stuffed with cheese; American buckwheat pancakes, topped with caviar; arancini, cheese-stuffed, deep-fried Italian rice balls; and mu shu pork wrapped in a tortilla. "Anyone looking for first courses or cocktail-party-food recipes will find no lack of inspiration here," concluded Booklist reviewer Mark Knoblauch. A Publishers Weekly critic noted: "The menu suggestions at the end, categorized by season, will inspire any home cook."



Booklist, October 1, 2006, Mark Knoblauch, review of Big Small Plates, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, October 15, 2001, review of Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook, p. 64; August 7, 2006, review of Big Small Plates, p. 50.


Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen Web site, (January 2, 2007), biography of Cindy Pawlcyn.

Mustards Grill Web site, (January 2, 2007), biography of Cindy Pawlcyn.