Cindy and Ted Walter, Passionfish
Restaurant Owner, Chef
Cindy and Ted Walter are co-owners of Passionfish Restaurant in Pacific Grove. This iconic eatery is known for a wine list that’s affordable, varied, and selected with great care - they were just nominated for a venerable James Beard Award for their wine program. They are also a destination for locals and travelers seeking out creative California-style cuisine that showcases the best of the Central Coast. However, their longstanding passion is bringing the message of sustainability to the public. They are spokespeople and educators when it comes to sourcing food responsibly - particularly when it comes to seafood and the ocean.
Cindy grew up in the Carmel Valley, where her father was a hand line fisherman. His twelve-foot skiff supported ten poles at a time. She remembers, “We fished salmon, squid and perch from the wharf and halibut from the beach. My dad fished rockfish in the kelp beds, he’d troll for salmon and sea bass.” She would then go to the back doors of restaurants to sell it, her father excited at getting twenty-five cents a pound.
She met Ted in Salinas where he had opened his first restaurant, Teddy’s on Main. She worked nearby and often when she passed by, Ted would wave at her. Eventually she went in for lunch, and he served her table. She then applied for a job as a host, and as she put it, “The rest is history.”
Ted had trained in classic French cooking. This influenced his early cooking, but over time, he followed his interests in the rapidly evolving world of global cuisines. He developed his own style that uses spices and techniques from Asia and Central America, combined with locally produced foods. “Seafood has been difficult. We don’t buy tuna or swordfish. Salmon are becoming more and more rare here and the prices are really high. Our wild, local foods are becoming scarcer and expensive.” Though he’s heartened to see the awareness around sustainable food, particularly seafood growing among consumers. “Each year went by more and more and people were interested in sustainable seafood. That learning curve has been huge and fast. We are excited to be a small part of the change.”