Before picking up "Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire," I only knew Barbara Lynch for her guest judge appearance on Season 12 of Top Chef. Like most other guest judges, she was a local to the hosting city, Boston, and owned restaurants in the area. I didn't bother to learn more about her until I received a copy of her memoir published in 2017 as a gift. Two pages in, I was hooked.

Rough and Tumbl(ing) Into the Kitchen

You don't have to be a foodie or a feminist to appreciate the sarcasm and frankness of Lynch's writing. Growing up in South Boston with six siblings and a single mother, her upbringing was far from easy. From an early age, Barbara was drinking, smoking, and getting involved in law-breaking activities with her friends. She dropped out of high school before her culinary journey began.

Fueled From the Fire Within

The memoir begins with Barbara's childhood and discovery for her love of cooking in a Home Ec class. From there, Barbara takes the reader from her first experiences in professional kitchens without any formal culinary training. She jumps at any opportunity that appears and often has to learn from her mistakes. Her "never give up" attitude keeps her going through some of the most difficult times and her passion continues to fuel the fire within her.

Past Experience Shaping Her Present Style

Although your stomach may growl as you read about Barbara's travels to Italy and recipe testing for her restaurants, you also learn about Barbara's perseverance and toughness in male-dominated kitchens. Spending her first years in Todd English's restaurants, Barbara chose to run her future kitchens the opposite way - less yelling and more encouragement. 

Tastes to Please All

Barbara now owns seven restaurants that are part of Barbara Lynch Gruppo. From high end dining at No. 9 Park and Menton to trattoria-inspired Italian dishes at Sportello, elevated cocktails at Drink to a modern take on classic New England seafood at B&G Oysters, and even a wine bar/deli at The Butcher Shop to a demonstration kitchen and cookbook store at Stir, Barbara Lynch has truly created something for everyone.

Chef, Mentor, and Much More

"Out of Line" is not only a story of Barbara's culinary journey. It is about witnessing how far a true passion and desire to learn can take you. Recently named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People of the Year, Barbara is an inspiring woman both inside and outside of the kitchen.