Sally Schmitt is the original founder of the French Laundry and one of California’s most influential food pioneers. She was born and raised in Northern California and started cooking professionally in 1967. After 11 years spent in Yountville running a café and a restaurant, she opened the French Laundry with her husband, Don. She designed her menus around local, seasonal ingredients—a novel concept at the time. This style of “locavore” cooking caught the attention of critics and inspired other local chefs, helping propagate the farm-to-table movement. After selling the restaurant in 1994, Sally taught cooking classes in a renovated farmhouse on an apple farm in Mendocino. Nowadays, she lives on the Mendocino coast.