PAUL DAMICO – PRESIDENT OF MOE’S SOUTHWEST GRILL - "UNDERCOVER BOSS"
One of fastest growing Southwest chains in America. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Moe’s serves healthy cuisine at 500 locations. 34 states. Opening a new restaurant every 6 days.
Paul Damico, President: Joined in 2007. Grew up in eastern Long Island as one of six kids. Went to culinary school and later got business degree. Tells the story of his brother needing liver transplant, and having to travel large distance fast. His father’s company, Grumman Aerospace helped them will a plane, and he has always been thankful for that.
Paul has a wife and three daughters. For his undercover mission, he poses as Mark Richards, a failed fine dining restaurateur competing to win money to open his own restaurant.
CINDY PAWLCYN - MUSTARDS GRILLE IN NAPA, CA
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 yields 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 five 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 last book, Cindy’s Supper Club, debuted 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.