Chef Barbara Lynch was the first artist to participate in a new program of project-based residencies at the Gardner. These residencies create opportunities for enriching interaction between artists and the general public. Lynch spent two weeks wandering the galleries, thinking, and researching. She investigated tapestries, paintings, and objects throughout the Collection to fire her imagination. Among the works she found interesting was an altarpiece in the Long Gallery, The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, by Giuliano da Rimini. The delicate pattern on the Madonna’s gown became the catalyst for a new pasta stamp that she used in a pasta-making workshop for visitors.
During her time at the Gardner, Lynch turned her apartment into a test kitchen, experimenting with different pastas, recipes, and sous-vide techniques. She visited the galleries by night and experienced works by flashlight. In the archives she spent time researching Isabella Stewart Gardner’s travels in East Asia and her friendship with Okakura. Later she visited the conservation labs where she viewed the tea set that Okakura gave to Gardner upon his passing.
Lynch also partnered with Café G’s chef, Peter Crowley, on new menu ideas with the Museum's collection as inspiration. Their process of touring the galleries, shopping local farmers markets, and discussing their work was filmed to give audiences an insider’s perspective on how menus are created. Lynch returned to give pasta-making workshops for the Gardner’s staff and for the public, as well as to host a dinner in the Café that is based on elements of the collection.
Barbara Lynch (b. 1964 USA) is regarded as one of Boston’s—and the country’s—leading chefs and restaurateurs. While growing up in South Boston, Lynch, 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, Lynch worked under some of Boston’s greatest culinary talents then traveled to Italy where she learned about Italian 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, Lynch 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. Lynch is also the owner of restaurants B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Sportello, and Menton, as well as Drink, a high end cocktail bar, Niche Catour, a catering company, and Stir, a demonstration kitchen and cookbook store.
Other accolades include awards from The James Beard Foundation, Travel & Leisure, Boston Magazine and Gourmet. 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. In 2009, Barbara was honored to join Doris Kearns Goodwin and Julia Child as a recipient of the Crittenton Women's Union's Amelia Earhart Award. She is also a member of distinguished industry organizations including the Bocuse d’Or USA’s Culinary Council, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, and Les Maîtres Cuisiniers.
As the CEO of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Barbara oversees the operations of eight concepts and employs over 200 people. In addition to running her company, each year she dedicates time and resources to several neighborhood organizations around Boston as well as a number of local and national philanthropic missions. In 2011, she and the Gruppo team launched an initiative dedicated to cultivating healthy, sustainable eating habits through hands-on learning in gardens and classrooms at Boston's at-risk schools.