Earlier today Relais & Châteaux announced that Barbara Lynch had earned the title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux for her work at Menton in Fort Point, a distinction that goes to only two restaurants in the world each year. Eater spoke with Lynch about what it means for her and her crew and what she plans to do now.
So how does it feel? It feels great. I'm so proud. First of all I'm just really excited for my whole team. It's been a long road opening up a restaurant of this caliber in a down economy. But my team has been amazing and didn't let it get to us and stayed true to the vision that I had. It makes me feel tremendously proud but also that hard work really pays off in the end.
Were you surprised when you first heard? I was, yeah.
What was the process like? After about a year and a half we put our name in to be chosen. I had it in my mind to shoot for Relais & Châteaux, and that's why we designed Menton the way it is designed in terms of being very spacious and elegant with extreme hospitality and amazing food. But I wanted to design it so that it isn't over the top. I wasn't really sure if I was going to get it: I thought I would have more going against me.
So this was something you had in mind from early on? When I opened [No.] 9 Park 15 years ago I had an idea of where I wanted to head, where my career was leading, I had just left Galleria Italiana and was basically just doing Italian food: bowls of pasta, great homey food. When I opened 9 Park I wanted to veer off into the French cuisine side of things, which I hadn't really mastered, so that was a challenge that I put on myself. Then as I grew older and smarter and had few more restaurants under my belt, I saw the Congress St. project as an opportune time and space to shoot for what I wanted, because we did have the space to do it. It would be a lot more difficult to put what we have in 9 Park's space.
So now that you can cross this off your list, what are some of your remaining goals? Right now the main challenge is to keep it consistent, to make Relais & Châteaux really proud. My group is really funny: we don't rest on our laurels, we always continue to grow and to learn. In terms of myself and my company, I don't think we're going to be opening a new restaurant any time soon. We're just working on growing but more or less smarter than harder, as we say.
How is this going to change things? I'm not really sure. It's amazing to have this notch under my belt and it's also amazing for Colin Lynch to have this under his belt. His career is going to skyrocket, I think. He's the one that's been carrying most of the weight. I'm the founder and the visionary but it's not me who's in that kitchen every day leading the team, and I'm just so proud of him to receive this with me. He's not even 30 years old, which is amazing. He's going to be known as a world-renowned chef.
Any closing thoughts? Seriously, thanks to the city of Boston for supporting us and thank you to all the social networking. We're really happy and proud and we love what we do.
· All Barbara Lynch coverage on Eater [-EB-]
[Photo: Barbara Lynch/Justin Ide]