Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire (Paperback)
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“If you have an appetite for culinary adventure, you’ll devour the feisty and fun memoir” (Elle magazine) by James Beard award-winning chef, restaurateur, and Top Chef judge Barbara Lynch as she recounts her rise from her rough “Southie” childhood to culinary stardom.
Celebrated chef Barbara Lynch—named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2017—credits the defiant spirit of her upbringing in tough, poor “Southie,” a neighborhood ruled by the notorious Whitey Bulger gang, with helping her bluff her way into her first professional cooking jobs; develop a distinct culinary style through instinct and sheer moxie; then dare to found an empire of restaurants ranging from a casual but elegant “clam shack” to Boston’s epitome of modern haute cuisine. As award-winning chef Ana Sortun raves, “Her heroic story inspires us to remain true to who we are and honor our dreams with conviction.”
One of seven children born to an overworked single mother, Lynch was raised in a housing project. She earned a daredevil reputation for boosting vehicles (even a city bus), petty theft, drinking and doing drugs, and narrowly escaping arrest—haunted all the while by a painful buried trauma.
Out of Line describes Lynch’s remarkable process of self-invention, including her encounters with colorful characters of the food world, and vividly evokes the magic of creation in the kitchen. It is also a love letter to South Boston and its vanishing culture, governed by Irish Catholic mothers and its own code of honor. “Foodies will enjoy the vivid language used to describe Lynch’s food exploits, and old neighbors will be treated to a trip around south Boston through the eyes of a local” (Library Journal). Through her story, Lynch explores how the past—both what we strive to escape from and what we remain true to—can strengthen and expand who we are.
About the Author
Barbara Lynch has won multiple James Beard awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur (only the second woman to win), an Amelia Earhart award for success as a woman in a male-dominated field, and the Relais & Château designation of Grand Chef (one of only six in North America). She is the owner of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, which encompasses seven celebrated restaurants, including No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, Drink, Sportello, and Menton. Three of her restaurants are anchored in and have spurred the revitalization of South Boston, her lifelong home. In 2017, she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Learn more at BarbaraLynch.com and follow her on Twitter @BarbaraLynchBOS.
"If you have an appetite for culinary adventure, you'll devour the feisty and fun memoir by James Beard award-winning chef and philanthropist Barbara Lynch.”
— ELLE Magazine
"Whenever she writes about food, her passion is evident, and she appends a number of recipes that will surely send some readers straight to the kitchen. A rugged tale of a self-made woman in a high-stress profession. "
— Kirkus Reviews
“Lynch’s love of food and hard scrabble Southie upbringing are blended into a rich and engaging narrative that sheds light on the different influences that helped shape her career. The narrative is evocative of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential…Foodies will enjoy the vivid language used to describe Lynch’s food exploits, and old neighbors will be treated to a trip around south Boston through the eyes of a local.”
— Library Journal
"Barbara’s debut memoir is a funny but frank read that captures the fierce drive required to overcome challenges and triumph over adversities. Out of Line will serve as inspiration for young cooks to seasoned kitchen vets and everyone in between. A must read!"
— Eric Ripert, chef and author of 32 Yolks
"Lynch's life story struck me as a culinary take on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; a poignant tale of rough streets and poverty navigated by a bright, sensitive child who never outgrew her love for the place that made her tough, tender and fearless."
— Kathleen Flinn, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry and Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good
"The rise and rise of Barbara Lynch is an extraordinary story told with wry humor and infinite compassion. Her journey from a hard-up childhood to accomplished chefdom is a compelling, real-life ode to the power of food."
— Yotam Ottolenghi
"If Barbara Lynch had a food truck, it would be called quenelles of steel. Barbara is a true friend and mentor (with a great sense of humor) who has paved the way for women in the culinary industry. Her heroic story inspires us to remain true to who we are and honor our dreams with conviction."
— Chef Ana Sortun
"Barbara Lynch is more than just one of our greatest chefs and restauranteurs--she is a force of nature who proves that unstoppable passion for doing what you love can make the world a better, happier and more delicious place. If anyone has ever told you your dream is impossible, read this book.”
— Paul Feig, Director of Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy
"James Beard Award-winning chef Lynch, the owner of seven restaurants, has discussed BDSM with Julia Child and served mobsters such as Whitey Bulger in her native South Boston...Throughout the narrative Lynch is blunt and frank...But the broad strokes of Lynch's life are as fascinating as they are unique, and this memoir also details her role in changing the abusive, misogynistic world of fine cooking and her idiosyncratic approach to queer identity and marriage. Complete with 10 pages of recipes, this book is well worth any foodie's attention."
— Publishers Weekly