Boston’s culinary grande dame’s
fitness regimen is as transformative
as discovering the perfect olive oil
When Barbara Lynch was opening three restaurants simultaneously in Boston, she was on what she called the “con- struction diet”: co;ee, doughnuts and pizza. “It was like having triplets,” she says of the attendant weight gain. A couple of years later, when Lynch
was expecting a more literal baby of her own, the weight really
packed on—because of gestational diabetes, she had to eat
every three and a half hours. But a friend from the Southie
neighborhood where she grew up had recently opened a box-
ing gym. Every morning Lynch would get herself into the ring.
After a year of training, Lynch maxed out on boxing
“I wanted to spar”—(spah!)—“but I couldn’t find the right
partner.” So she started trail running, which she now does
almost every day after her daughter heads o; to school. Never
on a treadmill, she says, but outside, even in the dead of winter.
Running led to Ashtanga yoga. It’s repetitive, intense, no
When she’s home in Boston, Lynch tastes everything in
music, just focus—“militant style,” she says—which has been
transformative. “You’re literally lighting a fire in your body.”
But finding the time every day to practice at home is tough.
“I’ve got 280 employees [at restaurants like No. 9 Park, Spor-
tello and Menton], a husband, a daughter, three stepkids.
I owe myself an hour and a half,” says Lynch, who is the only
female chef in North America to have earned the title Grand
Chef Relais & Châteaux . “Plus, if I didn’t feel healthy and fit,
I’d be miserable. And I’d be a miserable boss. No one would
want to work with me.”
Feeling fit means adapting her diet to what her healthy
body craves. When she travels, Lynch packs her $20 Hamilton
blender and a range of powders—including kale and spinach—
and makes her own shakes.
the kitchen, but first she makes sure she’s full on something
healthy—“You know, apples and peanut butter”—so she has
a bite of a dish, not a bowl.
“My sta; used to laugh at me because I brought breakfast,
lunch and dinner in a lunchbox,” she says.
It turns out her daughter is an even tougher audience.
Call it karma from the high school years Lynch spent working
for a bookie instead of going to class: This health-conscious
star chef has one picky kid to cook for when she gets home
at 7 every night.
“She likes chicken fingers, so I make it with Nature’s yeast.
She doesn’t know it’s not breadcrumbs. And I make farro
risotto; she just knows it’s risotto. And it’s damn good.”