Food Fighter

Chef Barbara Lynch made her name as the erudite bad girl behind a small kingdom of restaurants, including Sportello and No. 9 Park. But with her latest venture—the city’s most ambitious upscale restaurant in years—she may be picking the battle of her life.

One night, Lynch finished signing 40-odd copies of Stir for investors, a glass of Spanish red steadying her hand, and headed to the bar at the Butcher Shop. She ate roast duck, with sides of chard and lentils, and a shared bottle of Sancerre rouge. Afterward, she drove the few blocks to Ginger Park, to meet up with some of her girlfriends and her husband. Petri was already holding court at the bar, flanked by Natalie van Dijk Carpenter, of the home design store Lekker, and Shannon Macklin, a chef’s-apparel designer whose husband, Jefferson, is Lynch’s COO. Something trance-y was playing on the sound system. Lynch sat at the end of the bar and ordered a “dirty, dirty, dirty” martini.

A stream of industry people began stopping by to pay their respects. Patricia Yeo, who had blazed brightly through a series of high-profile gigs in Manhattan before moving to Boston to take over Ginger Park’s kitchen, wandered over in her chef’s jacket. She made the carpetbagger’s mistake of saying, “Go Yankees,” which elicited boos from Lynch and her friends. Martin Breslin, the head chef of Harvard’s dining services, approached, along with Thomas John, the executive chef for Au Bon Pain, and they all traded pleasantries and news. Lynch once served on the Harvard food program’s board, and John, before entering the corporate world, was a fellow Food & Wine Best New Chef, when he was at Mantra.

“So, did you move to South Boston?” John asked.

“Yes, I did. I have a restaurant. Two new ones there. Sportello and Drink.”

“You know,” said a third gentleman, who appeared deeply familiar with tanning beds, “we own that little parking lot down the street.”

“You mean the one I never park in?” Lynch replied evenly. The fellow was in the produce business and irritated her, she explained later, because he was “always selling.”

He asked how her business was. “Good,” she said. “We’re surviving. Better year than last year, so far.”

The produce guy stayed another 20 minutes, and when he left, Lynch pantomimed committing ritual suicide.

“I know, I know, I know, I’m sorry,” Macklin said.

Petri asked Lynch if she’d been nice.

“I was very nice,” Lynch said, then ordered another dirty martini. She sipped it slowly, enjoying the respite before stepping back into the ring.


  • jeanne

    Hope I got your attention….read this piece and felt a lot of emotions…..mostly pride. I also got a dose of surprise…..always, always thought Beth, who I knew from the courts (the wall), devine way, the andrew, the o’reilly, the gavin, the tynan, was the youngest Lynch. then i read this review and said to myself, “are you kidding me, who the hell is Barbara?” I was around when whitey would drive by the courts in his caddie throwing candy so i do get it. in fact, i was just recalling the serious and sad conversation among neighbors as we made our way past your house after your dad passed, and how concerned people were thinking how your mom would get by with all you kids to take care of. I looked across at your house and to me, a kid, I wondered how could everything change so much but yet look the same? Sort of like us when we grow up, hu
    ? At the time it was very disconcerting, very scary. I was just a kid. I think a week or two later Beth and I pooled our money and boug

  • j

    my previous comment was much too long….i’ll just end with best wishes for your continued success!

  • Dara

    At Women Chefs Conference chefs were asked Why Food, Chef Lynch is the last and sums it all up

  • Dara
  • Brian

    I have been following your success, what you are doing is good for the city of Boston. Keep up the good work. I love the publicity you are getting. Don’t forget to duck when you see one coming! Good luck to you. The next time I come down from the mountains of New Hampshire, I’ll stop by.