Barbara Lynch is a powerhouse chef and restaurateur in Boston with seven restaurants and food businesses to her credit (so far), including the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Menton, Four-Star No. 9 Park, B & G Oyster and The Butcher Shop. She’s also a two-time James Beard Award winner and recently was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Her deeply honest memoir, Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire, was released in April. In her book, Lynch discusses her less-than-ideal childhood in rough-and-tumble South Boston, her unusual path to the top of the cut-throat culinary world and exciting news for the future.
With book releases and magazine spreads, it can be hard to catch up with the whirlwind that is Lynch these days, but we managed to slow her down long enough to get her views on everything from her emotional tome to an underrated spot to eat around town.
Your memoir is intensely personal. What made you decide to share as much as you did?
Yes, it’s very personal. First off, writing a memoir is a great way to move forward. For me, it felt like once I put everything out there, I could finally move on to the next chapter in my life.
Second, I wanted to share my story to inspire anyone who feels like the odds might be stacked against them. With a lot of hard work — and some luck — success is attainable.
What were your most memorable dining experiences in the last year?
I just dined at chef Mauro Colagreco’s restaurant, Mirazur, in Menton, France, a few weeks ago. Chef Mauro is brilliant with blending ingredients native to Menton with [his native] Argentinian ingredients.
Every part of my experience there was impressive: food, wine pairings, service and atmosphere.
Is there a Boston restaurant that you think is undervalued or undiscovered that people should check out?
People should definitely check out Bambara in Cambridge. Chef David Bazirgan’s menu is amazing and the service is great, too. David was part of my opening team at No. 9 Park. I’m so proud of him!
What is a new trend in food you like or would like to see?
I’d love to see chefs return to the basics. Let’s go back to real food — great ingredients prepared and plated simply.
Do you have a dream destination you’d love to visit someday?
I would love to go to so many places. It’s hard to nail down just one! Right now, Iceland is at the top of my list. I’m dying to cook in the thermal sand. I’m also really interested in learning more about Icelandic cuisine and getting to know which ingredients they use.
Do you have a favorite destination for food anywhere in the world?
Ever since I first visited, I’m always drawn back to Italy. So many culinary experiences there have influenced me as a chef. I’m especially partial to simpler “peasant” dishes, from Puglia to Piedmont.
What’s one item you can’t travel without?
My sketch book! I sketch in my downtime to relax and also sketch dishes as a part of my menu-planning process.
What’s up next for you?
I’m really excited to begin a partnership with Boston Harbor Cruises and Boston Harbor Now this summer to elevate culinary offerings on the waterfront, Boston Harbor Islands and Boston Harbor Cruise’s charter fleet. Together we’re going to redefine the way we celebrate through food with friends, family and colleagues on the harbor.