How is Barbara Lynch inspiring women through her Full Plate series?
Barbara Lynch, right, brought in Doris Kearns Goodwin in May for the Full Plate series.
Chef Barbara Lynch, founder and owner of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, is much more than a local celebrity. The entrepreneur—who counts Menton, No. 9 Park, and Sportello among her restaurants—wants to empower other women to take chances through her Full Plate series. The monthly three-course lunches are held at Menton, where accomplished female speakers discuss their own experiences and diners can network and connect with each other.
Here, we chat with Lynch about her inspirations, her future plans, and much more. Menton, 354 Congress St., 617-399-8513
What was the inspiration behind starting this series? BARBARA LYNCH: To network with peers from other industries at a time of day that works for us all to come together in an informal and personal way to listen to speakers that inspire us. As a chef, and woman, I realized traditional networking didn’t really happen for me. I am not up for “power breakfasts,” and I don’t golf. However, over the last few years, as I’ve focused more on what it means to be a founder and entrepreneur, I have really enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to connect with inspiring women in other fields.
How do you choose the women invited to speak? BL: Some of the women invited are friends of mine or women I’ve seen speak before or been on panels with, but often it’s women we’ve read about and always wanted to meet. Attendees are also very forthcoming with ideas for women they would love to see speak at future lunches, and we’ve gotten some great ideas that way, too. We start discussing in September, or even earlier in the year, about who is really impressing us and holding current influence in the world. We look for speakers who we view as role models; those that break the glass ceiling and can share their story.
For your most recent lunch, you brought in legendary author Doris Kearns Goodwin. What kind of impact has she had on you? BL: Doris is just amazing. I first met her years ago at No.9 Park and have always found her incredibly interesting and such a brilliant woman, historian, and accomplished writer. I am a huge fan of her books and just can’t seem to put down her latest, The Bully Pulpit. We have long wanted her to speak at Full Plate and I was pleased to discover that she is very, very down to earth for such an accomplished woman.
Do you plan on expanding your Full Plate series? BL: We might have to find a larger venue if it keeps on growing like it is and I would love to have a Full Plate retreat sometime in the future. But for now, in 2014, we have one more speaker in July and then take a mini-break in August. This fall, we will continue the series with a new lineup of fantastic women, including Adrianne Haslet, the professional dancer who lost part of her leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and Nancy Cushman of O Ya.
What do you tell aspiring female entrepreneurs? BL: Go with your gut and follow your dreams. It’s amazing how you close one door and another one opens up. Take (smart) risks! Think outside the box and don’t take no for an answer.