Scheduling an interview with famed chef Barbara Lynch takes some ingenuity. The mastermind behind two of Boston’s most respected restaurants, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Menton and Four-Star No. 9 Park, and the proprietor of six other epicurean endeavors around the city, Lynch stuffs her days like the gnocchi on No. 9 Park’s prix fixe menu. When you add in the fact that she’s also a mother, wife and book author (Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition), you wonder how she finds time to breathe, let alone sit with a travel website for a chat about her role in the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America series. But here the multiple James Beard Award winner is — in between nightly duties in Boston and preparations for the September 12 and 13 Taste America events in Atlanta — talking to Forbes Travel Guide about her first trip to the capital of the South, New England food trends and many other tasty topics.
The Taste America tour sounds all kinds of delicious. What aspect of the 10-city event are you most excited about?
The spirit of the tour is absolutely amazing. James Beard was a champion of American cuisine and American talent, so to see the foundation spotlight 10 incredible cities across the country, celebrating regional cuisines, highlighting the diversity of our restaurants and bringing attention to the dedication of award-winning chefs is great.
What hints can you give about the menu that you, Bacchanalia’s Anne Quatrano and others will be putting together for the Atlanta stop?
The gala dinner was a total collaboration. We started with in-season local produce, filtered it through our individual culinary sensibilities and then worked together on presenting a cohesive menu. It is a great opportunity for me to work with new produce and get the chance to cook side by side with a chef that I greatly admire. For the Sur La Table demo, I will be sharing a taste of New England and one of my signature dishes with the audience — it’s a real crowd pleaser.
When you think of the Deep South culinary scene, Atlanta in particular, what sort of imagery comes to mind?
First of all, I want to say that this will be my first visit to Atlanta and I am beyond excited. The Deep South has such an amazing and interesting culinary heritage with an incredible variety of local ingredients and dishes. I am excited by soul food, scuppernong grapes, Georgia peaches, boiled peanuts, and red beans and rice. I can’t wait to explore.
The Barbara Lynch Gruppo’s imprint on Boston is incredible. When you look at the city’s dining landscape as a whole, what trends do you see?
The dining scene has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, and it’s been really exciting to be a part of that evolution. People here love great food, wine and cocktails, and are really interested in where food comes from and how things are prepared. While big cities always have a number of chains, I think Boston is still filled with a lot of independently owned restaurants. There are a number of chefs opening up special little places all over the city that add so much to the character and quality of our dining landscape. Cocktails are still really important and something that guests seek out. There is a continued trend of establishments that serve beautiful small plates designed for sharing, and I think Bostonians are intrigued by places that offer a fresh and modern dining aesthetic experience.
Can you offer a few secrets as to how you’re able to oversee so many restaurants, do guest appearances around the country and maintain a family all at the same time?
Go with your gut and follow your dreams. Take smart risks. Think outside the box and don’t take no for an answer. Surround yourself with a strong team and invest in them.