Boston Chef Barbara Lynch on Her Love of Instagram, Her Biggest Competition + Pig Bladders

Boston Chef Barbara Lynch

Those who’ve enjoyed the unforgettable white tablecloth experience at Menton or toasted with a craft cocktail at Drink may be surprised with the New England specialty that Boston chef Barbara Lynch kicks back with — anyone not from Boston, that is. The James Beard Award winner and sole female Relais & Châteaux grand chef in North America has stayed true to her humble roots while creating an empire for fine-dining and imbibing just a few miles down the road from where she grew up as one of seven kids and entered the hospitality industry as a waitress. Today, she has three kids of her own, six restaurants, the demonstration kitchen Stir, and a legacy that makes her a household name in one of the country’s most historic cities.

So a chef can’t eat four-course dinners every night. What’s your typical meal or favorite indulgence?

If I make something for myself quickly, it’s probably spicy hummus and cucumbers and lettuce. But I love fried clams and French fries.

Sounds like a true Bostonian! You were one of the first people to take the step and invest in the Seaport District and now it’s booming. But why take a chance when you did?

I just love being part of a community. A community strengthens your success in a way, and you’re always part of it. Fort Point had soul. Those old warehouses still had bones in them even though they were empty. It was desolate but I even knew as a kid that I wanted to be there. … I’m so glad I did three restaurants [Menton, Sportello, and Drink] instead of one at the same time. That would have been a $@*&ing temple sticking out down there, and you need the support and diversity. Now every two seconds there’s another building going up and it’s different than I envisioned — I thought it would be more of an urban environment with a school or a grocery store. But I’m still glad.

Boston Chef Barbara Lynch

Why not branch out of Boston, and lend your name to like, a hotel restaurant in Vegas or something?

I don’t have partners, so I don’t just go in and do a turnkey. I don’t want to go in and sell a name. Not to say I wouldn’t with the right deal and that I feel my team is ready to move with me. It’s like giving birth and saying, ‘Oh, okay, I didn’t really like this kid, I’ll just give it away,’ and walk away. I can’t do it. It’s not me.

Did you know as a kid that you wanted to be a chef?

I was definitely around 12 or 13, and I was talking myself into ‘I’m a chef. I want to be a chef.’ I literally thought I was going to own a sub shop, though, not be where I am now. My pivotal moment was my first job on a boat [a Martha’s Vineyard dinner cruise]. It was a huge success, and I said, ‘Wow, this is fun!’ That’s the difference between our company and others. We’re here 90-plus hours a week, so you’ve got to just have fun with it. It’s going to be hard sometimes, but, most of all, it should be a great place to work.Continue Reading

Fine Dining: Don’t Call It a Comeback

Fine-Dining-Don't-Call-It-a-ComebackAfter all, it’s been here for years. But, the economy is bouncing back — and so is fine (make that “superfine”) dining. Manhattan’s refurbished Pierre Hotel now houses the recently opened Le Caprice, which New York Magazine‘s Adam Platt says “looks like a grand, Gilded Age train car done over by Noël Coward and his friends in Art Deco tones of black and pearly white” and serves “a variety of classically executed Continental favorites.” In other words, the check may not be modest, but nor will the dining experience.

Up in Boston, chef-restarauteur Barbara Lynch is opening what she hopes will be the crowning jewel in her Boston restaurant empire. Menton, named for a French town on the Italian border, is slated to start serving in January and will feature tasting menus of four or seven courses with prices hovering around $150 per person (including wine). Lynch, whose other restaurants include B&G Oysters, No. 9 Park, and Sportello (among others), promises The Boston Globe, “You’re going to want to dress up. It’s going to be very luxurious, very elegant.”

Are you looking forward to dining at more upscale eateries in the new year? Chime in here or over on our Facebook page.