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Distinguished Alumnae
CINDHURA REDDY ’04, chef/restaurateur and James Beard Semifinalist



Cindhura Reddy ’04 is proof that there are rewards, tangible and intangible, when one follows one’s heart and takes the path less traveled. A Laurel lifer and the youngest of three sisters to attend Laurel, Cindhura was involved in Green Key, Chapel Theater and Gallimaufry at Lyman Circle. After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in political science, she knew her passion was not for law and the art of legal argument but rather for the art of cooking. So she applied to the Art Institute of Philadelphia where she received a degree in culinary arts, a field where women, especially women of color, are vastly underrepresented. Only 25% of head chefs and cooks in the US are women. Even fewer are women of color. 
Cindhura backed up her degree with practical experience and learned the ropes in several top restaurants in Philly before embarking on a nine-month world adventure with her husband, Elliot Strathmann, eating their way across Southeast Asia and Europe, working on farms in Italy and France and discovering new culinary techniques. After returning to the States, they moved to Denver and got jobs, she as chef de cuisine, at Spuntino, a small Italian restaurant. A year later she and Elliot took a leap of faith and purchased the restaurant. He manages the front of the house while the kitchen and its menu—a mix of traditional and innovative cuisine—is her domain.

Zagat named Cindhura a top 30 under 30 for the Denver culinary scene in 2014. Three years later she was recognized with a Star Chef award as a Rising Star chef. In 2020 the James Beard Foundation named her a semifinalist as a Top Chef in the mountain region and a year later Spuntino was one of only 10 restaurants to cook for the James Beard Foundation's Taste America event. In 2022 Spuntino was nominated by the Beard Foundation for Outstanding Hospitality and in 2023 Cindhura was again a semifinalist for Best Chef in the mountains region. Spuntino, with its unique Indian/Italian cuisine, has been featured as a top Denver restaurant several years running by Denver magazines.

Cindhura’s commitment goes beyond crafting an award-worthy cuisine but extends to caring for her staff, customers and the citizens of greater Denver. She donates both time and food resources to after-school programs for lower income children, the Food Bank of the Rockies, and groups that focus on food security for low income families as well as those focused on education for Indian girls and women. She supports local farmers and ranchers and is committed to environmental sustainability and eliminating food deserts.

Dining out is a social enterprise. That changed in the spring of 2020. Throughout the pandemic, Cindhura was focused on providing a safe and healthy experience for her staff and her diners. While many restaurants did not survive the pandemic, Spuntino was able to maintain a full staff with full benefits and in those early months pivoted to providing take out and delivery and outdoor dining before reopening its dining room. Growing up, Cindhura and her sisters learned how precious food is and during those uncertain months she cooked and delivered hundreds of meals to health care providers and essential workers in Denver.

For charting a path in a field where women are significantly in the minority while mentoring other women along the way, for supporting local farms and sustainability and for using her creativity, compassion and award-winning cuisine to feed the bodies and souls of her extended community, the Laurel School Alumnae Association recognizes Cindhura Reddy ’04 as this year’s Young Alum of Distinction. 
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