James Beard Award-winner and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Barbara Lynch is regarded as one of Boston’s—and the country’s—leading chefs and restaurateurs. While growing up in South Boston, Barbara, at the age of 13, got her first kitchen job cooking at a local rectory. It was in high school, however, that an influential home economics teacher and a job working with Chef Mario Bonello at Boston’s esteemed St. Botolph Club piqued her interest in one day becoming a professional chef. During her early twenties, Barbara worked under some of Boston’s greatest culinary talents. After working with Todd English for several years at Michaela’s and Olives, Barbara traveled to Italy where she learned about the country’s cuisine firsthand from local women. She returned to Boston and became the executive chef at Galleria Italiana, bringing national acclaim to the tiny trattoria when she captured Food & Wine‘s “Ten Best New Chefs in America” award.
In 1998, Barbara opened a restaurant of her own, No. 9 Park, in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The restaurant immediately received rave reviews from publications around the country and was named one of the “Top 25 New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appétit and “Best New Restaurant” by Food & Wine.
Barbara expanded her presence in Boston by opening two restaurants in the South End in 2003: B&G Oysters, serving pristine oysters and New England classics, and The Butcher Shop, a wine bar and full-service butcher shop. Barbara continued to grow her culinary empire by opening three unique concepts in succession: in 2005, Niche Catour, a catering company; Plum Produce in September 2006; and next door, Stir, a demonstration kitchen and cookbook store, in 2007.
In Fall 2008 Barbara launched two concepts in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood: Drink, a bar dedicated to the craft of the cocktail, and Sportello (Italian for counter service), her modern interpretation of a diner. Her catering company, 9 at Home (formerly Niche Catour), relocated to Fort Point in 2008 as well.
In spring 2010 Barbara and her team opened an eagerly anticipated third concept in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, Menton, a fine dining restaurant. Menton has received numerous accolades since opening, including being named one of both Bon Appétit and Esquire magazine’s best new restaurants in 2010, being nominated as a James Beard Foundation Awards 2011 finalist for Best New Restaurant, and a four star review from The Boston Globe. In 2012, Menton became the first and only Relais & Châteaux property in Boston and its reputation as a culinary destination was further confirmed with the receipt of AAA’s Five Diamond Award and Forbes Travel Guide’s Five-Star Award. Barbara is currently the only female in the United States to hold the distinguished title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux.
Barbara’s talents have continued to garner praise over the years, both locally and nationally. In 2003, The James Beard Foundation named her “Best Chef Northeast” while in 2007, Boston Magazine named Barbara “Best Chef.” In 2011, she was named Distinguished Chef by Johnson and Wales University and was also the recipient of the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs’ Barbara Tropp President’s Award. In 2013, Barbara was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, a prestigious group of the most accomplished food and beverage professionals in the country, and also received an honorary doctorate in public service from Northeastern University in recognition of her culinary and philanthropic contributions. In 2014 Barbara received her second James Beard Foundation Award, being named “Outstanding Restaurateur”; she is the second woman ever to receive this honor.
Barbara is a member of several notable industry organizations including Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, Les Maîtres Cuisiniers, the international association of Master Chefs, and the Bocuse d’Or USA Culinary Council.
Because of her unique story and entrepreneurial insight, Barbara has had the privilege of participating as a panelist and speaker at events including The Ad Club’s Women in Leadership Forum, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, and Women Chefs & Restaurateurs’ National Conference.
Barbara and her recipes have been featured in many publications including Saveur, Boston Common, Bon Appétit, The New York Times, and Inc. magazine. She was one of a handful of Bostonians to be profiled in the ABC-TV documentary series “Boston 24/7” and is the subject of a documentary film entitled “Amuse Bouche—A Chef’s Tale.” Her television appearances include Top Chef, PBS’s Victory Garden, and The Today Show.
Barbara’s first cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in fall 2009. Stir was received enthusiastically by both the media and home cooks and received a prestigious Gourmand award for “Best Chef Cookbook” for the United States. Barbara is currently working on her second book, a memoir, which is slated to be published in early 2016.
As the founder and CEO of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Barbara oversees the operations of eight concepts and employs over 250 people. In addition to running her company, Barbara has always recognized the importance of giving back to the community and has been involved in a number of philanthropic programs over the years. In 2012 she established the Barbara Lynch Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to empowering families and providing leadership and resources to help create healthy, inspired, and dignified futures for Boston’s youth.