LET ME JUST SAY THIS: BARBARA LYNCH IS ALL OF US.
She’s a wanderer. Curious, insecure, impatient for something beyond her own demonstrated power. Despite four James Beard Awards, a Relais & Chateaux grand chef nod, and positions at the top of every “Best Of” list from nearly every industry rag—and, revealed just before press time, TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the World—she’s somehow confidently uncertain of herself (but exceedingly confident of others). She’s a true New Englander, sarcasm guarding her wary heart. She trusts and gets burned. She worries about being a good mother.
It’s all in her new memoir, Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire, released this month. Along with well-worn narratives about her hard-knock Southie upbringing, the book carries revelations regarding the world-famous chef’s struggles with childhood trauma, self-doubt, and sexual identity. It exposes the cracks in a Boston restaurant empire, and it does it honestly. This isn’t a shrine to success, but the chronicle of one very unusual, restless life. It’s a good read, plain and simple.
At the Cherry Bombe Jubilee conference a few days before the book’s release, Chef Lynch gave her life story yet another plot twist: an announcement that she’ll be giving her restaurants to her employees, focusing instead on a bank for women. I sat down with her a few days later to see if I could get some answers from a woman who seems to thrive on keeping us all guessing.