An accomplished chef with a background in finance and more than 10 years of experience with one of California’s leading culinary companies, Sean A. Knight joined restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn as Managing Partner for Mustards Grill and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. Employing his leadership strengths and galvanizing style, Knight has played a profound role in the ongoing operations and business development for Cindy Pawlcyn Napa Valley, developing management systems for the legendary Mustards and making Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen the successful restaurant it is today.
"There isn’t anything I won’t do,” says Knight about his management style. “There have been nights when I’ve washed dishes. I have the attitude that you do whatever it takes. My main goal is to find and build really good teams and then develop those people.”
Energetic and ambitious, Knight turned to the management side of restaurants after accomplishing his career goals as a chef. Over the years Knight has earned many accolades and has been featured in Gourmet, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, San Francisco Chronicle and public television’s “The Chefs of Napa Valley.” He has been a guest chef for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Series and was a Trefethen Vinyeards Rising Star Chef in 2000.
Knight studied finance at Georgia State University, but it was his part-time job as a cook at Atlanta’s Buckhead Diner that captured his heart and led him to his career as a chef. Once decided, Knight moved to New York and completed stages at Bouley, Le Bernardin, L’Espinasse, and Daniel in New York before working as chef de cuisine under Jean Banchet and Tom Coohill at Ciboulette in Atlanta. An opportunity to work with Joachim Splichal at legendary Los Angeles restaurant Patina brought Knight to Los Angeles and the beginning of a 10-year tenure with the Patina Group.
He moved to the Napa Valley in 1996 to take the role of executive chef at Pinot Blanc, where he was awarded three stars by the San Francisco Chronicle. As his role with the Patina Group developed, Knight was instrumental in growing the organization. Along with his work in the kitchen, Knight managed operational, financial and human resource areas for the restaurant as well as operational aspects for other Bay Area Patina properties. He helped Splichal take his company from three restaurants to over 25 properties and developed Patina Group restaurant concepts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, becoming one of five partners.
Prior to joining Cindy Pawlcyn as managing partner for the restaurants, Knight worked as executive chef of the Oakland Coliseum for Aramark Corporation where he oversaw the culinary operations for $30 million in annual stadium food and beverage sales in 150 premium suites, two 250-seat casual restaurants, fine dining and catering operations. He also served as a restaurant consultant for projects across the country, including dining establishments in Ohio and Atlanta.
Knight lives in St. Helena with his wife and two boys. He enjoys cooking at home, car racing, and reading.