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Chef Barbara Lynch will play gourmet role at iFest Boston

By Bill Forry, August 29, 2014

Boston’s own Barbara Lynch is a major iFest booster.Boston’s own Barbara Lynch is a major iFest booster.
South Boston native Barbara Lynch just returned from a trip to Tokyo to cook for US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in an attempt to create a more robust interest in American cuisine in Japan. But it’s Ireland, and the opportunity presented by IFest, that has captured her imagination lately.

Lynch, a James Beard Award-winner and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef, has been a major booster of the inaugural IFest. Last year, she took a brief, but enlightening tour of Ireland’s culinary scene. It was her first-ever trip to her ancestral homeland and she says it has inspired her to take a keen interest in developing stronger ties to Irish vendors.

“They really blew me away,” Lynch said of her visit to Cork and Killarney. “There was a Michelin star chef at the hotel in Ballymaloe and the food was beautiful. It’s funny because I always feel like Ireland has this reputation of older people and simple food. But I spent some time with Darina Allen at Ballymaloe and they are all real artisans and they use quality products.”

Lynch says that she is drawn to iFest in part by its dynamic leader, Rachel Kelly, whom she met two years ago here in Boston. But she also hopes that the festival’s trade show component will encourage more US restaurateurs to source their food from Ireland.

“I should be able to get Irish butter here and fresh hops and seaweed. Ireland is an agricultural heaven. We get all these products from France and Italy, but why not more from Ireland. Even the water is better there.”

Lynch told the Reporter that she has made plans to write a book that will connect Ireland and America by focusing on recipes of Irish grandmothers. She is also working on her memoir, which is slated to be published in 2016.

At IFest, Lynch — whose culinary empire includes No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Menton and Drink— will be a featured part of the cooking demonstrations. She has used her huge network to enlist other high-profile chefs to join in the fun.